David, Domenico (d. 1698).
La forza della virtu drama per musica da rappresentarsi nel Teatro Malvezzi l’anno m.dc.xciv... Dedicato all’Eminentissimo, e Reverendissimo Sig. Cardinale Marcello Durazzo Legato di Bologna.... Bologna, Antonio Pisarri's heirs, 1694.
4° (199x137 mm). Collation: A8, B-H4, I6. 82 pages, lacking the last blank leaf. Roman and italic type. Twelve folding etchings, engraved by Carlo Antonio Buffagnotti after Marco Antonio Chiarini; each plate signed by artist and engraver, and with caption titles. Rebound in cardboards covered with a beautiful eighteenth-century gilt-blocked floral paper. Marbled edges. A good copy, some foxing and staining. Title-page slightly soiled, pale waterstain to the title-page and second leaf, small repaired tear to fol. B1, without any loss. Other repaired tears on some folding plates with no damage. B1, without any loss. Other repaired tears on some folding plates with no damage.
The rare first illustrated edition of this opera libretto in three acts, published on the occasion of its presentation at Bologna's Teatro Malvezzi. The librettist is Domenico David, while the music was composed by Giacomo Antonio Perti (1661-1756), whose name is not mentioned in the work. The drama had already been performed the previous year, in 1693, in the Teatro San Giovanni Crisostomo in Venice with music by Carlo Francesco Pollaroli. On that occasion the libretto had been printed in Venice by Nicolini, in an unillustrated edition in 12° format. These editions testify to the success of the opera, which deeply influenced Metastasio's libretto for the Siface (Naples 1723).
The 1694 Bolognese edition is enriched with twelve splendid plates illustrating the different stage scenes, engraved by the printmaker, painter, and accomplished cellist Carlo Antonio Buffagnotti (1660-ca. 1715) after drawings executed by the renowned Bolognese architect Marcantonio Chiarini (ca. 1652-1730), who trained with Francesco Quaino and Domenico Santi. Active in Bologna and Milan, Chiarini was a quadratura specialist and painted scenography for several plays. The plates included in La forza della virtu attest to his use of the scena per angolo, or multipoint perspective, a significant innovation in seventeenth-century stage design which is generally attributed to Francesco Bibiena, but was in all likelihood used here for the first time. “Until this time, all perspective scenery had a single vanishing point – for a spectator seated in an ideal position, the scenery seemed to disappear at a single point in the distance [...] Multipoint perspective, as the name implies, could have several vanishing points. The effect [...] was to free the stage from the auditorium. The scene behind the proscenium no longer had to conform to the scale of the spectator, it could be larger than life. There was no need for symmetry: a scene could be shown from any point of view” (The Cambridge Guide to Theatre, Cambridge 2000, p. 1093).
Frati, 8208; Gaspari V, 396; Gregory-Sonneck, p. 526; Grove Dictionary of Opera I, p. 1086; Sartori, Libretti italiani a stampa, 10875; Schatz 7948; Philobiblon, One Thousand Years of Bibliophily, no. 218.