After the baroque period, opera remained an interesting genre for the public and an artistic challenge for composers. Opera evolved with the new development in the arts as well as mirroring the diverse changes in politics and social affairs. Opera is not just about the music but is a total experience where text, scenery and interpretation play a large role.

Orfeo ed Euridice by Christoph Willibald Gluck (1714-1787) is based on the story of Orpheus from Greek mythology. The opera was premiered in Vienna in 1762 and can be seen as the beginning of several important reforms in the genre of Italian opera. The dramatic, complicated storyline and complex music, give way to simple and natural expression of emotions. The music serves the text and the story, without excessive ornamentation. Gluck would continue this direction, transforming this work into the French opera style to Orphée et Eurydice. The libretto is by Ranieri de’ Calzabigi. The role of Orpheus was created for the castrato Gaetano Guadagni (1728-1792). The opera was published in 1764 with a famous engraving by Charles Monnet.


Fourteen years after Gluck’s Orfeo ed Euridice, Bertoni wrote his Orfeo for the same castrato, Gaetano Guadagni. Bertoni remained, in contrast to Gluck, faithful to the traditional concept of opera seria.


The Conservatory Library preserves several autographs of Baldassare Galuppi (1706-1785), one of the most productive Italian composers of his time. He was famous for comic as well as serious operas and worked together with known librettists such as Pietro Metastasio (1698-1782) and Carlo Goldoni (1707-1793). Galuppi succeeded in emphasizing the comedic and emotional character of the text with his music. The manuscript of Ciro riconosciuto contains several drawings and corrections.


This Italian libretto of Artaserse is from a performance in 1751. It has a frontispiece with a portrait of the librettist Pietro Metastasio. The music is by Galuppi. 



Le Gilosie villane, freely translated as “pastoral jealousy,” by Giuseppe Sarti is a satirical opera from 1776. It tells the story of a marquis who returns to his property and becomes involved in an amorous affair with the local village girls. The comic element is highlighted by the exaggerated and cliché portrayal of the characters, such as the marquis as an arrogant bastard, the villagers who act unsophisticated and the women who are jealous and rivalrous. It is one of the few comic operas which remained popular for years. The engraving on the cover of this two volume manuscript shows the place where these relational intrigues take place.


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