“Marian Devotion in Rome between Music, Liturgy and Art in the Seventeenth Century: The Music of Alessandro Melani for the Pauline Chapel in Santa Maria Maggiore”
Room 266, Everson Hall
The Pauline Chapel in the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore represents one of the more complex and significant ecclesiastical buildings in Counter-Reformation Rome. It was conceived as a relic venue and built to underline and reassert Catholic doctrine in response to the reforming zeal of Protestantism. The most important painting preserved in this Chapel is the Virgin of Saint Luke. According to tradition, it has legendary origins: drafted by the apostle Luke and completed by the angels. With the bull Immensae bonitas (1615) Pope Paul V asserted his belief in the Virgin’s strength as the merciful intercessor before Christ, an advocate for Christian souls, and an essential vehicle for salvation: all of these concepts are expressed in the text of the antiphon Salve Regina. The statutes of this Chapel were approved in 1615: The “Salve” services were committed to twelve musicians: ten singers, one organist and the chapel master. They sang litanies, antiphons, and the Compline for two choirs every Saturday night, at all feasts, and on the eves of Marian feasts. The earlier “Salve” music that has been preserved is that composed by Alessandro Melani (1639–1703), appointed director of the “Salve” from 1667 until his death. The music repertoire was written for two choirs and sung with one voice assigned to each part. The rhetorical scheme of the texts and their musical setting follows the ideological program of the bull issued by Pope Paul V. This music offers a systematic repertoire by a single composer for the most important Marian chapel of the Roman Counter-Reformation. The aim of this lecture is to underline the connections between Melani’s music and that religious and cultural context. I am convinced that this perspective of study, based on the intersection between visual art, architecture, liturgy, and music, represents an important way to achieve a broader knowledge of this complex cultural and religious message in Counter-Reformation Rome.
Luca Della Libera (b. 1961 in Milan) completed his music studies in Rome, Italy, where he graduated with a degree in flute performance at the Conservatory of Santa Cecilia and in History of Music at the University La Sapienza, with Professor Pierluigi Petrobelli. Since 1998, Della Libera has been a tenured professor of History of Music at the Conservatory of Frosinone. From 1988 to 1991, he collaborated with IBIMUS (Istituto di Bibliografia Musicale) in the cataloguing of musical manuscripts in several Roman archives, such as Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore, Basilica di San Giovanni in Laterano, and Biblioteca di Storia Moderna e contemporanea. His main field of research is music in Rome during the Baroque era, particularly sacred music, musical institutions, and archival studies. Della Libera has published articles in Nuova Rivista Musicale Italiana, Rivista italiana di musicologia, Recercare, Studi musicali, Acta musicologica, and Analecta musicologica. He published three volumes of critical editions of the sacred music of Alessandro Scarlatti for A-R Editions, and in 2014 a critical edition of the oratorio La Santissima Annunziata of Alessandro Scarlatti for the Istituto Italiano per la Storia della Musica. He also published several biographies for Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani and Musik in Geschichte und Gegenwart.
Della Libera collaborates for recording and performing projects with some of the most esteemed Italian performers in Baroque music: Rinaldo Alessandrini and Concerto Italiano, Fabio Biondi and Europa Galante, the violinist Enrico Gatti, and Paolo Da Col with the ensemble Odhecaton. In 2012 and 2013, he held workshops and seminars at the Conservatory of Frosinone and Musikhoschule Bremen in collaboration with the soprano Gemma Bertagnolli on the sacred music of Alessandro Scarlatti. In February 2015, he was invited by the Birmingham Conservatory for an ‘Erasmus’ teaching exchange.
Since 1997, Della Libera has been a music critic for Il Messaggero, the most prominent newspaper in Rome. He received his PhD in musicology from the Università di Roma Tor Vergata in ‘co-tutelle’ with the Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz. His dissertation, “La musica sacra romana di Alessandro Scarlatti: testi, contesti, documents,” was given the distinction Magna cum laude. In February 2013, he was invited to give papers and lectures at Princeton University and Harvard University. He collaborates also with several Italian music institutions: Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, Accademia Filarmonica Romana, Accademia Chigiana (Siena), Teatro San Carlo di Napoli, Festival delle Nazioni, and Centro della Pietà dei Turchini di Napoli.
Free (a Valente Lecture)