12 June 2009
VIENNA 1667 -- SBARRA, Francesco (1611-68). Il pomo d'oro. Festa teatrale Rappresentata in Vienna per l'augustissime nozze delle sacre cesaree e Reali Maestà di Leopoldo, e Margherita. Vienna: Matteo Cosmerovio, 1667.
8o (158 x 95 mm). 24 folded etched plates by MATTHÄUS KÜSEL (1629-81) after LUDOVICO BURNACINI (1636-1707). (One plate frayed at outer edge, another detached.) Original red paper wrappers, original first and last blank leaves mounted as paste-downs, (tears in spine and back cover). Provenance: L'Art Ancien (cat. 45, no. 36, sold to Gourary 1956).
THE EXCEEDINGLY RARE FIRST EDITION, documenting one of the most sumptuously produced and grandiose operas of the Baroque period. It was commissioned to celebrate the 1666 marriage of Emperor LEOPOLD I (1640-1705) and the daughter of Philip IV of Spain, MARGARITA TERESA (1651-73). The libretto by Sbarra has Jupiter present the golden apple to the new Empress after Paris has created dissension and envy among the Gods. The music, composed by PIETRO ANTONIO CESTI (1629-69), survives incompletely. The spectacle inaugurated Burnacini's huge new theater in the Cortina of the Hofburg, today's site of the National Library of Austria, a mostly wooden structure that accommodated thousands of spectators and the architect's elaborate machinery for the 23 scene changes. Küsel's etchings, in their FIRST STATE and FINE IMPRESSIONS, illustrate all 23 sets, with the actors in costumes also designed by Burnacini. The first plate shows a decorative stage for the dedication. Berlin 4126; Vinet 669; Ruggieri 967; not in Biach-Schiffmann, Giovanni und Ludovico Burnacini (Vienna 1931).
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