Händel e Steffani: la virtuosa alleanza di musica e politica
Why did marquis Francesco Maria Ruspoli, later Prince of Cerveteri, and Pope Clement XI (Albani) ask the young Handel to compose the music for the oratorio La Resurrezione (Rome, Easter 1708), rather than a successful composer such as Domenico Scarlatti, who belonged to cardinal Pietro Ottoboni’s circle? Why was La Resurrezione performed with five rehearsals, and why did Ruspoli spend a fortune to build two new theatres in the Bonelli palace while the Habsburg troops were menacing the Pope and the Catholic Church in Rome and southern Italy? Why did Ruspoli immortalize the political-historical and artistic events surrounding the performance of La Resurrezione with Alessandro Piazza’s uncommonly large painting? The paper gives an answer to these and other basic questions regarding Handel’s journey to Italy. It shows that Agostino Steffani, former musician and the Pope’s plenipotentiary bishop in Germany, organized Handel’s call to Rome, and that Handel’s music, which transformed the oratorio from a religious work to a theological-political opera, profoundly benefitted Steffani’s peace negotiations between the Holy Sea and Habsburg Empire during the War of the Spanish Succession.