The dramma per musica Andromeda liberata, the favola pastorale Euridice, and the azione teatrale Armida placata, all performed for the first time in Vienna at the Theater nächst der Burg in 1750, are, as pasticci, quite exceptional for the Viennese opera repertory of the Theresian Age. Their singularity resides not only in the high number of composers involved, but also in that they are mentioned explicitly at the top of individual vocal numbers in the manuscript scores. In this article we shed new light on the making of these operas by identifying twenty of the borrowed arias, showing how they were not the products of a simultaneous collaboration among all those composers, as early researchers often implied. Their creation was in all probability coordinated by Wagenseil, involved local librettists as well as other composers of the Viennese court, and required a substantial amount of pre-existing music, partly brought to Vienna by some of the singers, probably due to a lack of opera composers in Vienna in 1750 capable of setting entire libretti on their own.


[1] The dramma per musica Andromeda liberata, the favola pastorale Euridice, and the azione teatrale Armida placata, all performed for the first time in Vienna at the Theater nächst der Burg in 1750, are, as pasticci, quite exceptional for the Viennese opera repertory of the Theresian Age.[1] Their singularity resides not only in the high number of composers involved, but also in the fact that they are mentioned explicitly at the top of individual vocal numbers in the manuscript scores, where we find some of the most important names in the contemporary operatic scene, such as Girolamo Abos, Andrea Bernasconi, Baldassare Galuppi, George Frideric Handel, Johann Adolf Hasse, Niccolò Jommelli, Leonardo Leo, and Domenico Sarro, in addition to composers at the Viennese court, such as Giuseppe Bonno, Ignaz Holzbauer, Luca Antonio Predieri, and, most of all, Georg Christoph Wagenseil.

With the exception of Daniel Heartz, who explores Euridice in his book Haydn, Mozart and the Viennese School,[2] following the publication of its facsimile in 1983,[3] only Walther Vetter has shown interest in these pasticci through articles published on Wagenseil in the 1920s and 1930s.[4] Vetter emphasizes the innovative and simple style of Wagenseil, especially in Orpheus’s last scene in Euridice, in contrast to the conventional virtuoso style cultivated by Italian composers. Following Wagenseil’s apparent predilection for setting shorter arias without da capo, ariosos, and choirs in this pasticcio, Vetter sees in him a precursor to Christoph Willibald Gluck and his reforms, a judgment echoed by Heartz. Vetter’s biased generalizations, heavily influenced by the German nationalist idea of opera reform and still present in his writings from the post-war period,[5] should, however, be treated with caution. They lack historical-philological accuracy, which becomes evident especially when he presumes that these “mixed operas” (“Mischopern”)—as he calls them—were the result of collaborative work by the composers mentioned above. No less misleading are Eric Weimer’s commentaries in his preface to the facsimile edition of 1983, where he claims that the name “Alidauro Pentalide,” mentioned on the title page of Euridice’s libretto as the author of the text, is an assumed name chosen by Wagenseil for the five composers of the arias.[6] With relevant research yet to be undertaken, we remain poorly informed about the genesis of these operas and the heterogeneous nature of their multiple authorships, nor do we understand why they were all produced in 1750.

This article will shed new light on the making of these operas, showing how they were the result of a complex interaction among librettists, composers, and singers. They produced scores which combined the craft of the composers active in Vienna with a substantial amount of music originally written for other centers. In our study, we focus on borrowing practices, showing the paths of circulation through which persons and sources found their way to these Viennese pasticci and how the music was reused and adapted.

The Production Context

In order to understand these three operas properly, it is important to place them in the institutional context of the Viennese theatrical scene during the first decade of Maria Theresa’s reign, a period generally regarded as a time of decline for the opera seria—at least in comparison to the reign of Charles VI.[7] This assumption may be true for the first years, as the loss of the imperial crown between 1740 and 1745 did not inspire many lavish spectacles at court, but after the return of the imperial title to Vienna in 1745, Metastasian opera seria resurged, particularly under the direction of Rocco Lo Presti, an entrepreneur who—with the financial support of a group of noblemen—signed a contract with the court in December 1747 leasing the direction of the Burgtheater.[8] According to this agreement, Lo Presti would convert the old Ballhaus at Michaelerplatz, which had been used for opera performances since 1741, into a theatre, hire the best singers from Italy or elsewhere, increase the size of the orchestra, and acquire new operas composed by the best local or Italian masters.[9] The inauguration of the new Theater at Michaelerplatz—the so-called Theater nächst der Burg—with Gluck’s Semiramide riconosciuta, performed for the birthday of Maria Theresa on May 14, 1748, ushered in a new period of lavish operatic entertainment in Vienna. Unfortunately, this new era came to an abrupt end less than three years later due to Lo Presti’s precarious financial situation, which ultimately brought him to bankruptcy. During this time, important singers such as Angelo Maria Amorevoli, Gaetano Majorana (detto Caffarelli), Angelo Maria Monticelli, Domenico Panzacchi, and Vittoria Tesi-Tramontini sang on the Viennese stage, and composers such as Bernasconi, Galuppi, Gluck, Jommelli, David Perez, and Wagenseil set older libretti by Pietro Metastasio and Apostolo Zeno to music. We still do not know the financial conditions under which singers and composers worked for Lo Presti during his short tenure. The repertory performed during this time suggests that he was eager to transform Vienna into a major center for opera seria once more, commissioning operas from Italian composers not only for the carnival season but also for the traditional Galatage (gala days) of the Viennese court, such as the birthdays and name days of the empress and emperor or of other members of the imperial family.[10] The overall output was especially impressive: in less than three years, at least sixteen drammi per musica, two favole pastorali, and one azione teatrale were staged in Vienna, mostly with new music, not to mention numerous opere buffe and intermezzi.

Andromeda liberata, Euridice, and Armida placata, the only pasticci to appear under Lo Presti’s direction, were all performed in 1750. The libretti and scores of the latter two provide precise information about the occasions of their performances: Euridice was staged on July 26, the name day of Archduchess Maria Anna,[11] while Armida placata was presented on October 8, for the birthday of the Empress Dowager Elisabeth Christine.[12] The exact date of the performance of Andromeda liberata, which was apparently not connected to any special occasion, remains unknown.[13] All three operas were performed by the same ensemble, which, starting with Perez’s Andromaca on March 30, seems to have been the regular cast for all performances of serious operas in 1750: the contralto Vittoria Tesi, the tenor Amorevoli, and the castrato Giovanni Cinzio Tedeschi (detto Amadori), who sang the main roles, and the sopranos Margherita Alessandri, Caterina Raimondi, and Maria Masucci, who sang the secondary roles.

Table 1: The cast of Andromeda liberata, Euridice, and Armida placata


[2] Following an international career begun in 1716 that brought her to the most important opera centers in Europe, Vittoria Tesi came to Vienna in 1747/48 to take over the prima donna roles at the Burgtheater under the direction of Lo Presti, including the title role in Gluck’s Semiramide riconosciuta in 1748. The Viennese opera performances of 1750 represent her last appearances at a public theatre at the age of 50, after which she only gave private performances and devoted herself to being a singing teacher in Vienna for the remainder of her life.[14] Amorevoli, who had been in the service of the King of Poland and Prince Elector of Saxony since 1745 and was therefore a member of the Dresden Court Opera, also enjoyed an international career. He participated in several performances in Vienna already in 1748, including Gluck’s Semiramide riconosciuta and Hasse’s Leucippo, going back to Dresden in 1749 and returning to Vienna in early 1750.[15] For Amadori, the Viennese performances were the first experiences abroad in a career that until then had been limited to Italy but nevertheless had brought him to the most important stages since 1732, especially in Rome, Venice, and—just before his debut in Vienna—Naples.[16]

The careers of the other singers were clearly shorter and less prestigious, with the result that little is known about them:[17] Margherita Alessandri had sung secondary roles on various Italian stages since 1734. All we know of Maria Masucci’s activity before 1750 is that she had taken over the title role in an anonymous Artaserse in Prague in 1748, whereas no record of Caterina Raimondi being an opera singer before 1750 has been preserved. The lower rank of these last three singers in the hierarchy of the Vienna Opera in 1750 does not reflect the technical demands of the music they sang—as the highly virtuoso arias for Maria Masucci attest—so much as the distribution of roles and, above all, the generally lower numbers of arias assigned to them. Taken as a whole, the cast consisted of three international stars at the height or even at the end of their careers combined with three less well-known, and probably younger singers. This distinction between them can also clearly be observed in the borrowing practices.

The Sources

As previously noted, the only surviving scores of these three operas were originally part of the collection of the court chapel (see the source list at the end of this article) and are now preserved at the Austrian National Library. They were not supposed to be used during performances, but they were probably presentation copies, and therefore there are no traces of usage indicated. Also, they are the only sources which provide the names of the composers of individual numbers (see the third column in tables 2, 3, and 4).

“Alidauro Pentalide,” which Weimer mistakenly took to be a pseudonym for all the composers of Euridice, is in fact the Arcadian name of the poet Gian Pietro Tagliazucchi, who was active as a librettist at the Prussian court of Frederick II from 1753.[18] The end of the argomento of this libretto indicates that “the arias marked with * are by the author of the favola; the remaining ones were written by him to better accommodate other music,”[19] which clearly indicates the presence of borrowed material in the score. The text of Armida placata is a revision of a libretto written by Giovanni Ambrogio Migliavacca on behalf of Carlo Broschi (detto Farinelli) for the wedding of Infanta Maria Antonia Fernanda to Victor Amadeus III of Savoy. With music by Giovanni Battista Mele, the opera premiered at the Teatro del Buen Retiro in Madrid on April 12, 1750.[20] The adapter of the Viennese libretto is unknown. At present, no information regarding the authorship of the libretto of Andromeda liberata is available, although it can reasonably be assumed that it was a new text, as the following statement by the anonymous poet seems to imply:

He who has written the present drama declares that he has rather aimed to adapt it to the needs of the theatre than to the strict laws of the drama, and that only [the text] of four arias is new, here marked with an *, while the remaining ones were written to better accommodate other music.[21]

The asterisks mentioned in the libretti of Euridice and Andromeda liberata and the names of the composers indicated in the scores provide important evidence for the distinction between new and borrowed arias (see the first column in tables 2 and 3). Significantly, the asterisks are found at the beginnings of aria texts ascribed to the local composers Wagenseil and Holzbauer, implying that their music was expressly composed for the opera. In Armida placata (whose libretto does not include the distinctions these asterisks mark), other local musicians, such as the court Kapellmeister Predieri and the court composer Bonno, participated in the realization of the opera by composing new arias, although it cannot be ruled out that older music they had written was reused (as can be demonstrated in one case regarding Wagenseil). The active participation of the remaining composers in the production of these operas is unlikely or impossible for biographical reasons, so that we can presume that their arias were simply borrowed from their operas, as confirmed by the lack of asterisks for arias in Euridice and Andromeda liberata.

Table 2: Musical numbers in Andromeda liberata


Table 3: Musical numbers in Euridice


Table 4: Musical numbers in Armida placata


Borrowing the Arias

[3] Investigating the borrowing practices in these operas presupposes the identification of the arias concerned. This is, by all accounts, a challenging task, particularly because most of the pre-composed music in these operas has been fitted out with new texts, even if these sometimes still contain traces of the original ones. As in the case of the aria from Galuppi’s Evergete, which bears the name of Hasse in the score of Andromeda liberata, the possibility of erroneous ascriptions cannot be ruled out. Our research has been facilitated by the RISM Online Catalogue, but we often found it necessary to browse through scores and other catalogues, occasionally taking into account the singers’ repertories in the indices of the Sartori catalogue (see note 16) or the Corago database in order to narrow down possibilities. There is no doubt that the cast also provides valuable clues, as certain tendencies in the use of borrowed arias are recognizable: Amorevoli seems to have had a certain preference for Hasse, which is not surprising for a member of the Royal Polish Chapel, Amadori for Jommelli, and Maria Masucci for Abos, while Margherita Alessandri and Caterina Raimondi sang arias exclusively by Wagenseil.

So far, twenty borrowed arias have been identified, and we hope that future research will identify the remaining three arias, which surely were not composed for these operas (see the fourth column in tables 2, 3, and 4). Finding the “original version” of the borrowed music is not always easy, as many of these arias are transmitted in earlier versions or later reworkings, and some scores are either not preserved or inaccessible (see the source list at the end of this article). In some cases, identification has been presumed exclusively on the basis of the libretto, as in the case of the aria by Sarro, while in other cases, where the whole score is not preserved, at least one source of the individual aria could be found. Despite gaps and uncertainties, the current state of our research provides some indication of the extent of borrowing practices at the same time as it shows how musical manuscripts circulated (see the map in figure 1). In general, the majority of the arias borrowed for these pasticci come from operas produced in the 1740s in Dresden, Rome, Naples, and Venice. Only in four cases do we find arias from operas composed in the late 1720s for Naples and in the 1730s for London and Bologna, and in one case we identified an aria borrowed from a local opera, “Se mai senti spirarti sul volto” from Wagenseil’s La clemenza di Tito (1746), adapted in Armida placata as “Ah se intorno al tuo verde soggiorno.”

It is unclear why the impresario Lo Presti came up with the idea of producing three operas in 1750 comprised of music by various composers. It is possible that economic reasons played a role here, but it is highly probable that he had difficulties finding composers able to set the entire libretti to music. In 1750 Wagenseil, who as court composer was likely responsible for the opera performances, already had to compose two opere serie for the birthdays of the empress and emperor, Antigono and Vincislao; the other two, Andromaca and Vologeso, had been provided by Perez, the latter for the emperor’s name day. Jommelli, Galuppi, and Bernasconi, who had written or reworked operas for Vienna in 1748 and 1749, were not in Vienna any more, while Bonno, Predieri, and Holzbauer were probably too busy with other tasks—such as the music for the court chapel or music for the ballets—and therefore had no time to compose a whole opera seria. Gathering local forces and putting the rest of the score together with borrowed arias must have seemed an obvious solution to honor the name day of the Archduchess Maria Anna with a favola pastorale and the birthday of the Empress Dowager Elisabeth Christine with an azione teatrale. But according to which criteria were decisions made regarding what to compose or borrow?

It is striking that local composers, especially Wagenseil, provided the parts of these operas that were structurally less conventional and generally not borrowed in the practice of opera seria, such as choirs, arias with choir, shorter arias without da capo, duets, and scenes with short ariosos. If we look at Andromeda liberata, we can see this pattern clearly: the many choruses at the beginning of the first, second, and third acts and at the conclusion of the opera are attributed to Wagenseil in the score, so that we can presuppose his authorship also in a few cases, mostly for the choirs, where an author’s name is lacking in the score. Andromeda’s aria “Soavi pensieri” for Vittoria Tesi was composed by Wagenseil probably because it was conceived as a cavatina of one strophe. The same applies to the last solo scenes of Amadori in Euridice and Vittoria Tesi in Armida liberata. As a matter of fact, the three libretti—and Andromeda liberata as well, despite being a dramma per musica—exhibit a different approach to operatic dramaturgy from the Zenian or Metastasian models of opera seria, which set the standard for the Viennese repertory under Lo Presti. In accordance with the tradition of the festa and azione teatrale as well as their mythological subjects, choirs, ballets, accompagnato recitatives, short arias, and ariosos formed important constituents of these pasticci.[22] From this perspective, it can be assumed that Wagenseil wrote the most unconventional music of these operas not because he was critical of traditional opera seria and wanted to reform it, as stated by Vetter,[23] but because he was forced to do so for practical reasons. Such unconventional structures were not typical of him, considering that in his opere serie based on libretti by Metastasio and Zeno, such as Olimpiade, Demetrio, and La clemenza di Tito, Wagenseil primarily employed traditional da capo or dal segno forms. Short arias, ariosos, and choirs were not part of the repertory that usually circulated with singers and were reused in various operas. In addition to this structural aspect, we should consider the fact that the need for new arias also arose because of difficulties in finding borrowed material suitable for the whole cast. That is the reason why Wagenseil and the other Viennese musicians composed some more expansive arias as well for the primary roles, who otherwise mostly sang borrowed arias, or for less distinguished singers such as Alessandri and Raimondi.

[4] Andromeda liberata differs from the other two operas not only because it is a dramma per musica, but also because it has the largest proportion of borrowed arias and Wagenseil is the only local composer involved. In addition, many borrowed arias were not fully reworked with new texts, which indicates a certain haste in preparing the score. The fact that Amorevoli exclusively sang borrowed arias he had already sung in other operas could also be evidence that Andromeda was performed just after he arrived in Vienna. We do not know the exact date of his arrival, but we know from the libretto of the premiere that he sang the role of Manlio in Hasse’s Attilio Regolo in Dresden on January 12, 1750. This could suggest that the opera was performed at the end of January or in early February 1750 (Ash Wednesday fell on February 11 in 1750), perhaps as the only opera of the carnival season, just after the new cast was assembled.[24]

In order to properly understand how the borrowed material of the pasticci found its way to Vienna, it is important to pay particular attention to the singers and their repertory, as in a majority of cases they can be considered the driving force behind the circulation of opera sources.[25] From this point of view we can observe different paths.

Hasse’s arias, sung by the tenor Amorevoli in all three pasticci, can be regarded as classical arie di baule. Amorevoli had sung these arias at the first productions of Arminio (1745), Il natal di Giove (1749), and Attilio Regolo (1750) in Dresden or at the residence of Hubertusburg, where he had created the roles of Segeste, Cassandro, and Manlio respectively. The same can been said of the aria “Quel basso vapore” by Leo, which Amorevoli had sung in 1737 at the first performance of Siface in Bologna and which circulated as an independent manuscript, in some cases with the name of Amorevoli himself.

The case of Amadori presents a different situation. He sang two arias from Jommelli’s Ezio, which had been performed in Naples in 1748, where Amadori himself had sung the role of Valentiniano III. In Vienna, however, Amadori did not sing the arias originally written for him but rather the ones assigned to the female role of Fulvia, which in Naples had been sung by Catarina Aschieri. An additional aria also comes from Naples, originating from Sarro’s Ezio, which was first performed by Caffarelli at the premiere in Naples in 1741. There are, in fact, traces of a Neapolitan textual tradition in the borrowed material for Amadori, but it is not easy to ascertain who was responsible for their presence in Vienna. Maybe it was Amadori himself, who had been to Naples in 1748 and 1749, just before coming to Vienna, but we cannot exclude Caffarelli or the composer Jommelli, both of whom had stayed in Vienna in 1749. In the case of Amadori’s aria “Queste piante e queste arene,” a reworking of the aria “Per conforto a tanti guai” from Jommelli’s Merope, which was performed in Venice in 1742 by the castrato Antonio Uberti (detto Porporino), we can assume that Jommelli brought the manuscript of the entire opera to Vienna, where he reworked it for a performance in 1749, in the process of which this aria was removed from the score.[26]

The borrowed arias for Vittoria Tesi present a more complex situation. She also sang arias written for roles she created, as in the case of the arias from Bernasconi’s Bajazet and Hasse’s Semiramide riconosciuta, which had been performed for the first time in Venice in 1741 and 1745 respectively with Vittoria Tesi in the roles of Asteria and Semiramide. In Andromeda liberata, she also sang “Se siegui a serbarmi” from Galuppi’s Evergete—in the Viennese score wrongly attributed to Hasse—performed for the first time in Rome in 1747. The aria, which according to the libretto of the premiere had been sung in Rome by the castrato Giuseppe Gallieni, also circulated widely in manuscripts from this time. It cannot be ruled out that Caffarelli, who had been active in Rome in 1748 and 1749, may have brought the aria to Vienna. The unusual case of the aria “Se dal ciel voi balenate” by Handel, sung by Vittoria Tesi in Andromeda liberata, is quite interesting, because it was originally not a vocal piece but an instrumental minuet from the overture of Arianna in Creta, performed for the first time in London in 1734. It seems strange to find such a borrowing in Vienna, but this minuet circulated widely in several publications by the London publisher John Walsh and enjoyed a certain international popularity.[27]

Other unusual cases are the borrowed arias for Maria Masucci. In Euridice she sang arias by Wagenseil and Holzbauer, but in Andromeda liberata and Armida placata she sang only borrowed arias by Abos. Two of these arias come from the operas Pelopida and Arianna e Teseo, both of which premiered in Rome in 1747 and 1748. We do not know of any connection between operas of Abos and Masucci, but this material was probably brought to Vienna by Caffarelli, who had sung the role of Teseo in Abos’s Arianna e Teseo in Rome.

If one considers the Viennese pasticci as different intersecting paths of circulation involving singers and music manuscripts, it is not difficult to identify a Neapolitan, a Roman, a Venetian, and a Dresdner tradition, all of which can be localized in the 1740s:

Figure 1: Circulation of the arias of the Viennese pasticci of 1750 (© Sebastian Pernegger)

[5] The presence of an aria by Handel is not due to a specific singer but to the probable presence of Walsh’s prints in Vienna, while the relatively “old” Bolognese aria from Leo’s Siface was surely among the music Amorevoli brought with him from Dresden, along with Hasse’s arias. As we have shown, it is only with Amorevoli and partly with Vittoria Tesi that we can observe the traditional practice of the aria di baule, which involved the singing of an aria that had “traveled” with a singer who had already sung it in another opera or theatre in an essentially unchanged form. In the other cases, the involvement of singers in the circulation of arias is less obvious, which explains why the recycling of preexistent music—which at that time circulated in large quantities across Europe in the form of detached arias—often implied a process of adaptation.

Also, two of Hasse’s arias from Euridice do not seem to fit the concept of transmission explained above: “Ecco l’Iride serena” and “Lascia mio fier tormento” (originally “Lasciami o fier tormento”) come respectively from Hasse’s Il Sesostrate (1726) and Gerone tiranno di Siracusa (1727), which both premiered in Naples. These arias are much older than those borrowed in the Viennese pasticci and show no connection with the singers active in Vienna in the late 40s. Their presence can be explained by the fact that these operas had been performed in Vienna before, even though in an adapted version: Il Sesostrate was performed in 1733 as Lo specchio della fedeltà at the Kärntnertortheater, and Gerone in 1745 as Il trono vendicato at the Theater nächst der Burg.[28] We do not know any sources of the Viennese performance of the first, and only the libretto of the second is preserved, where “Lasciami o fier tormento” is missing. It might have been cut from the score and was probably preserved as a single aria, a reason why it was used five years later in Euridice. Compared with their Neapolitan versions, the two arias show few or no essential changes in the pasticcio.

All in all, the systematic annotation of composers’ names in the Viennese scores of the three pasticci is quite unusual for this time. It might demonstrate a certain respect for musical authorship specific to the musical culture of the imperial court chapel, but it might also be a strategy adopted by Wagenseil and other court composers for documenting their personal share of the overall work and thus distinguishing it from the work of “foreign” composers. It is also possible that the identification of authorship was necessary to fulfill official contractual obligations with the entrepreneur Lo Presti, but the economic aspects of Viennese opera production during these years remain unknown, as detailed documentation has yet to be found.[29]

Adapting the Text

As mentioned earlier, Andromeda liberata is the only opera in which there are arias that have not been provided with new text. Even in this case, however, small textual modifications, often made with the aim of adjusting the aria to the specific dramatic situation, can be found. In some cases, the second strophe has been replaced, as in the aria “M’empì d’orrore il tuono.”[30]


Differences between the original text and the new one vary notably. As a rule, the poets of the pasticcio wrote their texts to accord with the verse structure of the borrowed aria: verse type, accentual pattern, and stanzaic form usually remain unaltered. Sometimes the effort to maintain some of the rhymes or rhymed words in the original text is apparent, as in the following examples:


Occasionally, only the general mood of the original text is retained. In the aria “Se l’orror de’ nembi suoi” from Andromeda liberata, the topic of the fight against a monster sung by Teseo in the original aria “Nel pugnar col mostro infido” has been replaced by that of a storm:


There are, however, numerous cases in which the contrast between the original text and the new one is quite pronounced, although nothing has been changed in the music. For Armida placata, the arranger of “Mi crederai crudele” from Hasse’s Attilio Regolo replaces a desperate self-defense against an accusation of cruelty and severity in the original with an affectionate reminder by the protagonist of his own trustworthiness.


Just as extreme is the discrepancy between the aria “Caro Padre a me non dei” from Jommelli’s Ezio, in which Fulvia gently condemns the severity of her father, and its new text “Già sparir le larve orrende” for Armida placata, in which Rinaldo describes both the end of the forest enchantment after having struck the myrtle tree and his unhappy love for Armida.


Those rare instances in which the metrical structure of the original aria and that of the new aria do not coincide indicate a marked revision of the music. An example is the aria “Queste piante e queste arene” from Euridice, whose musical theme is borrowed from “Per conforto a tanti guai” from Jommelli’s Merope. A comparison of the poetic structures indicates that the new text was not simply adapted to fit the original music, and indeed a comparison of the music of both versions reveals numerous differences. Although both arias are written in ottonari with a similar rhythmic pattern, the Viennese aria consists of two strophes of four verses, that is, two verses more than in the original aria.

However, slight semantic changes in the content of an aria text do not seem to have much effect on the musical substance, especially if the overall character of the aria remains the same. Mostly changes were caused by the adaptation to a new voice and a new interpreter.

Adapting the Music

[6] Due to a lack of autographs as well as copies of the complete scores for some of the operas from which arias for the Viennese pasticci were borrowed, the source situation is often problematic. A further complication is introduced by the fact that some of these operas—such as Bernasconi’s Bajazet or Jommelli’s Ezio and Merope—were revised by the composers themselves for later performances. As many of these composers have not yet been adequately researched and, consequently, scholarly thematic catalogues of their works are not yet available, it is not always easy to assign the individual sources to a particular “version,” especially in the case of single aria manuscripts. Although we have taken care to ensure that the sources used represent a certain version or at least a state preceding the year 1750, we have focused more on macro-variants in the comparison, not only because we cannot say exactly which sources or source traditions were used in Vienna, but also because macro-variants are more significant when considering the practice of adaptation. We can assume that the borrowed arias mostly circulated as single manuscripts, which is confirmed by the tradition of many of the arias used in the pasticcio.

Investigation into the use of the borrowed arias indicates differing strategies of adaptation:

Usually no change or only minor changes can be found when singers sing arias they already sang in other operas. This can best be seen in all of the arias by Hasse and Leo sung by Amorevoli, such as “Oh Dei! Non turbarti,” borrowed from Hasse’s Il natal di Giove:

Example 1: “Oh dio! Non sdegnarti” from Hasse’s Il natal di Giove
Example 2: “Oh Dei! Non turbarti” from Andromeda liberata

In the case of arias sung by Vittoria Tesi, it has not always been possible to identify the original sources, but at this stage in our research, we have noticed differing patterns. No changes are found in the arias taken from Bernasconi’s Bajazet, which she had already sung at the first performance in Venice, but the arias originally written for other singers show different degrees of reworking. For example, the aria “Se siegui a serbarmi” from Galuppi’s Evergete, composed for the castrato Giuseppe Gallieni, has been transposed down a fourth—in conformity with the lower register of Vittoria Tesi—from G major to D major, with some changes affecting the closure of phrases:

Example 3: “Se siegui a serbarmi” from Galuppi’s Evergete
Example 4: “Se segui a serbarmi” from Andromeda liberata

No substantial change, apart from a transposition to the lower octave when the violins play in the high register, is evident in the aria based on the minuet from Handel’s Arianna in Creta, including the original key, which has been maintained in the new version:

Example 5: “Se dal ciel voi balenate” from Andromeda liberata (originally an instrumental minuet from Handel’s Arianna in Creta)

Significantly, the faithful rendition of the original instrumental melodic line forced the librettist to write a second strophe in a different meter than the first, quinari in place of ottonari, in order to conform to the different rhythmic profile of the phrase.

The castrato Amadori had the register of an alto in 1750 and did not seem to sing higher than f sharp. Therefore, in the aria “Per conforto a tanti guai” from Jommelli’s Merope, originally written for Porporino and transposed down a fifth for performance in Vienna, the virtuosic passages consisting mainly of leaps and high coloraturas had to be replaced by short passages confined to the middle register with intervals of limited range. The adaption, however, goes beyond simple vocal adjustment, because the instrumental ritornello and melodic line demonstrate how the Viennese arranger departs radically from the original after the statement of the main motif. This can be seen above all in the new B section of the aria, which moves to the subdominant instead of the relative minor as found in the original version. In the original aria, this section begins with the same motif as the A section (example 6). In the version reworked for Amadori, this motif no longer exists, and the descending, pathetic chromaticism of the original is only hinted at by a short phrase in the bass (example 7).

Example 6: “Per conforto a tanti guai” from Jommelli’s Merope
Example 7: “Queste piante e queste arene” from Euridice

In the case of “Ah non son io che parlo” from Jommelli’s Ezio, most of the original has been maintained for Amadori, with only slight adjustments in the high register. For the adaption of “Caro padre” from the same opera, sung as “Già sparir le larve orrende” in Andromeda liberata, the vocal line has been considerably modified, and although traces of Jommelli’s motives are recognizable from time to time, the arranger seems to have recomposed the vocal line of the aria’s A section, considerably lowering the range but at the same time maintaining the accompaniment as well as the vocal part of the original B section:

Example 8: “Caro padre” from Jommelli’s Ezio
Example 9: “Già sparir le larve orrende” from Andromeda liberata

Arias by Abos that were sung by the apparent newcomer Maria Masucci give the impression of an accomplished singer. The aria “Nel pugnar col mostro infido,” sung in Rome by Caffarelli and adapted for her in Andromeda liberata as “Se l’orror de’ nembi suoi,” has neither been transposed nor does it show any changes to the vocal line. It seems that Masucci’s voice must have been similar to that of Caffarelli in ambitus and technique. This can be seen in her aria “Già dal tuo cor io sento” from Armida placata, which had been sung in Rome in 1747 as “Ah paventate indegni” in Abos’s Pelopida by the tenor Ottavio Albuzio, whose technical ability was apparently limited. The aria is transposed from C major to D major, the orchestration includes horns instead of the trumpets and oboes scored in the original, and the entire aria is reworked to such an extent—with a longer ritornello, repeated coloratura instead of the simple varying repetitions of the main motif of the original vocal part, and a new section B (in C time instead of 3/8)—that one has the impression that the main theme is all that remains of Abos’s composition:

Example 10: “Ah paventate indegni” from Abos’s Pelopida
Example 11: “Già dal tuo cor io sento” from Armida placata

[7] Conversely, no change is to be found in the aria “Ah se intorno – al tuo verde soggiorno,” the only one of Wagenseil’s arias that we could identify as a borrowing, namely of “Se mai senti spirarti sul volto” from his La clemenza di Tito (1746), probably because the ambitus and reduced technical demands of the vocal line of the original were well suited to the voice of the singer Margherita Alessandri.


Although Andromeda liberata, Euridice, and Armida placata are unusual in terms of the number of composers involved and cited in the scores, they offer a valuable opportunity to study pasticcio practices in the middle of the eighteenth century. The findings of this investigation have revealed that these three operas were not the products of a simultaneous collaboration among all those composers, as early researchers often implied. Their creation was in all probability coordinated by Wagenseil, involved local librettists such as Tagliazucchi and Migliavacca and other composers of the Viennese court such as Bonno, Predieri, and Holzbauer, and required a substantial amount of preexisting music, probably due to a lack of opera composers in Vienna in 1750 able to set entire libretti on their own.

The primary intent of this study was to identify the borrowed compositions, reconstruct their provenance, and examine the differing approaches in their adaptations. Despite some limitations due to the absence of some musical sources or uncertain chronology, we succeeded in identifying most of the reused music numbers, which enabled us to discern different patterns. In some cases, preexisting music was borrowed without change (mostly, but not always, with a new text), in others it was adapted with varying degrees of reworking, while new music was also, at the same time, frequently composed. We explained this variety of approaches, taking into consideration, on the one hand, the specific structures of the dramaturgy of the libretto, which will be the subject of further investigation, and, on the other hand, the profiles and repertories of the singers along with the availability of preexisting material circulating in Vienna. The making of these pasticci, in which at least twenty-three arias composed between 1734 and 1750 were reused, twenty of which have been identified, can hardly be explained by reference to a uniform compositional concept or the “will” of an individual author. Although we should not underestimate the leading role Wagenseil played in their genesis, they should be viewed as the result of a historically contingent web of intentions and pragmatic decisions heavily dependent on the circulation of musicians and musical materials in Vienna under the short-lived direction of Lo Presti between 1748 and 1750.

Sources Used to Identify Borrowed Arias

a) Libretti

Arianna e Teseo: Drama per musica (Rome: Bernabò e Lazzarini, 1748). [Pietro Pariati]

ArminioDramma per musica (Dresden: Stösselin, 1745). [Giovanni Claudio Pasquini]

Attilio RegoloDramma per musica (Friedrichstadt: Harpeter, [1750]). [Pietro Metastasio]

BajazetDramma per musica [Venice: 1742]. [Agostino Piovene / Jacopo Antonio Sanvitale]

EvergeteDramma per musica (Rome: Generoso Salomone, 1747). [Francesco Silvani / Domenico Lalli]

Ezio: Drama per musica (Naples: Francesco Ricciardo, 1741). [Pietro Metastasio]

Ezio: Drama per musica (Naples: Domenico Langiano, 1748). [Pietro Metastasio]

Gerone tiranno di Siracusa: Drama per musica (Naples: Francesco Riccardo, 1727). [Aurelio Aureli]

Il natal di GioveFesta teatrale (Serenata) (Dresden: Stösselin, [1749]). [Pietro Metastasio]

Il Sesostrate: Drama per musica (Naples: Angelo Vocolà, [1726]). [Anonymous]

La clemenza di TitoDramma per musica (Vienna: Giovanni Pietro van Ghelen, [1746]). [Pietro Metastasio]

MeropeDramma per musica [Venice: 1742]. [Pietro Metastasio / Bartolomeo Vitturi]

Pelopida: Drama per musica (Rome: Antonio de’ Rossi, [1747]). [Gaetano Roccaforte]

Semiramide riconosciutaDramma per musica [Venice: 1745]. [Pietro Metastasio]

SifaceDramma per musica (Bologna: Clemente Maria Sassi, 1737). [Pietro Metastasio]

b) Scores

Abos, Girolamo. “Nel pugnar col mostro infido” [from Arianna e Teseo], F-Pn, Mus. D-23 (2).

—. Pelopida, F-Pn, Mus. ABO-160 (1).

Bernasconi, Andrea. “La bella Irene” [from Bajazet], GB-Lbl, Add. 31624.

Galuppi, Baldassare. “Se siegui a serbarmi” [from Evergete], D-Dl, Mus. 2973 F-35,18.

Handel, George Frideric. Ariadne an Opera as it is Perform’d at the Theatre Royal in Covent Garden (London: Walsh, [1737]).

Hasse, Johann Adolf. Semiramide riconosciuta, D-LEu, N.I. 10284a-c.

—. Arminio, D-HAmi, MS 49 (1).

—. Il natal di Giove, D-LEu, N.I.10311.

—. Attilio Regolo, D-LEu, N.I.10319a-b.

—. Gerone tiranno di Siracusa, A-Wn, Mus.Hs.17280

Jommelli, Niccolò. “Ah, non son io che parlo” [from Ezio], I-Nc, 33.226 (6).

—. “Caro padre a me non dei” [from Ezio], GB-Lbl, R.M.22.f.8 (9.).

—. Merope, D-Mbs, Mus. Ms. 4469.

Leo, Leonardo. “Quel basso vapore” [from Siface], I-BGc, C.4.37.21.

Wagenseil, Georg Christoph. La clemenza di Tito, A-Wn, Mus.Hs.17170.


  1. The term pasticcio came into use in the eighteenth century to describe a particular method of production of a musical work (vocal or instrumental) made up of various preexistent, borrowed parts, usually by several composers. Cf. Steffen Voss, “Pasticcio,” in Das Händel-Lexikon, ed. Hans Joachim Marx, Das Händel-Handbuch 6 (Laaber: Laaber, 2011), 556–60. A pasticcio can be premiered as such on a new or adapted libretto (as in the cases examined in this article), or it can result from a strong reworking of an opera to which numerous borrowed pieces are added. In current research, the quantity of borrowed parts plays an important role in the definition of the pasticcio and its distinction from an opera arrangement. Reinhard Strohm, for example, no longer regards Handel’s version of Geminiano Giacomelli’s Lucio Papirio Dittatore (1732) as a pasticcio but as an arrangement, since Handel only added two arias composed by Nicola Antonio Porpora and adapted the recitatives to the voices. Cf. Reinhard Strohm, “Händels Pasticci,” in Händels Opern, ed. Arnold Jacobshagen and Panja Mücke, Das Händel-Handbuch 2 (Laaber: Laaber, 2009), 2:351–53. Opera historians have focused particularly on this practice in Handel and in the London opera repertoire. See, besides Strohm’s studies, Curtis Price and Lowell Lindgren, “Unity, Originality, and the London Pasticcio,” Harvard Library Bulletin 2, no. 4 (1991): 17–30; and Lowell Lindgren, “Venice, Vivaldi, Vico and Opera in London, 1705–1717: Venetian Ingredients in English Pasticci,” in Nuovi Studi vivaldiani: Edizioni e Cronologia delle Opere, ed. Antonio Fanna and Giovanni Morelli, Studi di musica veneta 4 (Florence: Olschki, 1987), 633–66. However, recently the pasticcio has become the subject of an extensive research project financed by the German Research Foundation (DFG) and the National Science Centre, Poland (NCN), under the direction of Gesa zur Nieden and Aneta Markuszewska: “Pasticcio: Ways of Arranging Attractive Operas.”
  2. Daniel Heartz, Haydn, Mozart and the Viennese School, 1740–1780 (New York: Norton, 1995), 94–6.
  3. Georg Christoph Wagenseil et al., Euridice, Italian Opera 75 (New York: Garland, 1983) [facsimile edition of the manuscript Mus.Hs.18032 held at the Austrian National Library, Vienna].
  4. Walther Vetter, “Georg Christoph Wagenseil, ein Vorläufer Christoph Willibald Glucks,” Zeitschrift für Musikwissenschaft 8, no. 7 (1926): 385–402; Vetter, “Der Opernkomponist Wagenseil und sein Verhältnis zu Mozart und Gluck,” in Gedenkschrift für Hermann Abert: Von seinen Schülern, ed. Friedrich Blume (Halle: Niemeyer, 1928), 165–76; and Vetter, “Zur Entwicklungsgeschichte der opera seria um 1750 in Wien,” Zeitschrift für Musikwissenschaft 14, no. 1 (1931): 2–28.
  5. See particularly Walther Vetter, “Der deutsche Charakter der italienischen Oper Georg Christoph Wagenseils,” in Festschrift Karl Gustav Fellerer zum sechzigsten Geburtstag am 7. Juli 1962, ed. Heinrich Hüschen (Regensburg: Bosse, 1962), 558–72; Vetter, “Italienische Opernkomponisten um Georg Christoph Wagenseil: Ein stilkundlicher Versuch,” in Festschrift Friedrich Blume zum 70. Geburtstag, ed. Anna Amalie Abert and Wilhelm Pfannkuch (Kassel: Bärenreiter, 1963), 363–74.
  6. Eric Weimer, preface to Wagenseil et al., Euridice.
  7. For a recent survey on opera during the reign of Maria Theresa and Francis II, see Michele Calella, “Hoftheater im Wandel: Das Wiener Opernrepertoire, 1740–1815,” in Geschichte der Oper in Wien, vol. 1, Von den Anfängen bis 1869, ed. Otto Biba and Herbert Seifert (Vienna: Molden, 2019), 153–64.
  8. For a history of Viennese theatres during the early years of Maria Theresa’s reign, see Andrea Sommer-Mathis, “Höfisches Theater zwischen 1735 und 1745: Ein Wendepunkt?” in Im Dienste einer Staatsidee: Künste und Künstler am Wiener Hof um 1740, ed. Elisabeth Fritz-Hilscher, Wiener Musikwissenschaftliche Beiträge 24 (Vienna: Böhlau, 2013), 109–23.
  9. Franz Hadamowsky, Wien Theatergeschichte: Von den Anfängen bis zum Ende des Ersten Weltkriegs; Sonderausgabe (Vienna: Edition Wien / Dachs, 1994), 205–11.
  10. Although in some respects outdated, the only survey of the repertory under Lo Presti can be found in Gustav Zechmeister, Die Wiener Theater nächst der Burg und nächst dem Kärntnerthor von 1747 bis 1776, Theatergeschichte Österreichs 3/2 (Vienna: Böhlau, 1971), 195–222.
  11. [Libretto] Euridice: Favola pastorale per musica di Alidauro Pentalide P. A. Da rappresentarsi nel nuovo privilegiato Imperial teatro, in occasione del gloriosissimo giorno del nome di S. A. R. Maria Anna, Arciduchessa d’Austria, ec.ec.ec. in Vienna L’Anno M. DDC. L. (Vienna: Giovanni Pietro van Ghelen, [1750]).
  12. [Libretto] Armida placata: Azione teatrale per musica da rappresentarsi nel nuovo privilegiato Imperial teatro, in occasione del felicissimo giorno natalizio della S. C. R. C. M. di Elisabetta Cristina Imperatrice ec.ec.ec. in Vienna L’Anno M. DDC. L. (Vienna: Giovanni Pietro van Ghelen, [1750]). Elisabeth Christine’s birthday was actually on August 28 and was generally celebrated in the castles of Hetzendorf or Schönbrunn with a small ceremony. Cf. Marina Beck, Macht-Räume Maria Theresias: Funktion und Zeremoniell in ihren Residenzen, Jagd- und Lustschlössern, Kunstwissenschaftliche Studien 189 (Berlin: Deutscher Kunstverlag, 2017), 59. The performance on October 8 could be a late homage to this festivity.
  13. [Libretto] Andromeda liberata: Drama per musica, da rappresentarsi nel nuovo privilegiato Imperial teatro in Vienna L’Anno M. DCC. L. (Vienna: Giovanni Pietro van Ghelen, [1750])The performance date of March 30, which is found in the majority of Wagenseil’s worklists, has probably resulted from confusion with Perez’s Andromaca, which was performed on that day. Cf. Helga Scholz-Michelitsch, Georg Christoph Wagenseil: Hofkomponist und Hofklaviermeister der Kaiserin Maria Theresia (Vienna: Braumüller, 1980), 82n60.
  14. MGG Online, s.v. “Tesi-Tramontini, Vittoria,” by Irene Brandenburg, accessed February 13, 2020. On Vittoria Tesi’s Viennese years, see also Francesca Menchelli-Buttini, “Gluck e Jommelli per Vittoria Tesi (Vienna 1748–1754),” in Canterine e virtuose sulle scene teatrali del XVIII secolo: Atti del Convegno Internazionale di Studi (Reggio Calabria, 12 ottobre 2018), ed. Nicolò Maccavino (Reggio Calabria: Edizioni del Conservatorio di Musica F. Cilea, forthcoming); and Menchelli-Buttini, “Riprese e nuove intonazioni di drammi per musica italiani a Vienna fra il 1748 e il 1751,” in I libretti italiani a Vienna tra Sei e Settecento, ed. Alfred Noe, Adriana de Feo, and Nicola Usula (forthcoming). We would like to thank the author for sharing her unpublished manuscripts with us.
  15. MGG Online, s.v. “Amorevoli, Angelo Maria,” by Irene Brandenburg, accessed February 13, 2020.
  16. Claudio Sartori, I libretti italiani a stampa dalle origini al 1800: Catalogo analitico con 16 indici, vol. 7, Indici II (Cuneo: Bertola & Locatelli, 1994), 632.
  17. Sartori, I libretti italiani, 7:12, 418, 545. Data from Sartori have been cross-checked with information from Corago: Repertorio e archivio di libretti del melodramma italiano dal 1600 al 1900, accessed February 13, 2020.
  18. For unknown reasons, Heartz, Haydn, Mozart and the Viennese School, 95, has attributed the libretto of Euridice to Migliavacca.
  19. [Libretto] Euridice, A2v. Original wording: “Le Arie segnate colla * sono dell’Autore della Favola, le rimanenti sono state da lui al meglio accomodate ad altra musica.”
  20. [Libretto] Armida placata: Componimento drammatico da rappresentarsi nel Regio Teatro del Buon-Ritiro, per comando di Sua Maestà Cattolica il Re Nostro Signore D. Ferdinando VI. Per festeggiare i gloriosi sponsali della reale Infanta D. Maria Antonia Fernanda con il Real Duca di Savoia (Madrid: Lorenzo Francesco Mojados, [1750]).
  21. [Libretto] Andromeda liberata, A2v. Original wording: “Protesta chi è scritto il presente Drama; di essersi piuttosto voluto accomodare al bisogno del Teatro, che alle rigorose Leggi del Drama, e che quattro sole Arie à egli scritte di nuovo, segnate con la *, e le rimanenti à dovuto al meglio ad altra Musica accomodare.”
  22. As far as the ballets are concerned, no corresponding source could be found.
  23. See Vetter, “Opera seria um 1750 in Wien, which is based on this assumption.
  24. It would be strange had no opera performance taken place during the 1750 carnival season, as implied in Zechmeister, Die Wiener Theater, 408.
  25. For the importance that singers had in the circulation of opera arias or scores, see Jennifer Williams Brown, “On the Road with the ‘Suitcase Aria’: The Transmission of Borrowed Arias in Late Seventeenth-Century Italian Opera Revivals,” Journal of Musicological Research 15 (1995): 3–23; and Suzanne Aspden, The Rival Sirens: Performance and Identity on Handel’s Operatic Stage (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013).
  26. This is a significant detail as it confirms the impression that in the three pasticcios mostly music was reused that had not already been performed in Viennese performances.
  27. Bernd Baselt, Händel-Handbuch, vol. 1, Thematisch-systematisches Verzeichnis: Bühnenwerke (Leipzig: Deutscher Verlag für Musik, 1978), 394.
  28. We owe this information to Andrea Sommer-Mathis, who is leading a project on the repertory of the Kärntnertortheater from 1728 until 1748 (“Das Wiener Kärntnertortheater in der Zeit von 1728–1748”). It is noteworthy that both operas were premiered in Naples at a time when the Kingdom of Naples was ruled by the Habsburgs.
  29. Some documents are quoted, without reference, in Franz Hadamowsky, Wien – Theatergeschichte, 205–11.
  30. In the following transcriptions, typographical mistakes have been corrected and punctuation modernized.

Cover picture: Georg Christoph Wagenseil, Armida Placata (Vienna: Giovanni Pietro van Ghelen, [1750]), D-Dl, MT.2571; by courtesy of Sächsische Landesbibliothek – Staats- und Universitätsbibliothek.


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