Piazzola, PRINTED BY THE VIRGINS AT MARCO CONTARINI’S PRIVATE PRESS 1685.
Six parts in one volume. 4to. Frontis. with different etched arms on the recto and the verso, [iv], , [ii], , [ii], , [ii], , [ii], , [i], p. and EIGHT FOLDING ETCHINGS (from 320 x 260 mm. to 580 x 1232 mm.).
18th-century decorated brocade paper wrappers (one hinge neatly repaired).
First Edition. ORPHAN GIRLS PLAYED THE INSTRUMENTS, SANG THE OPERAS, DREW THE ILLUSTRATIONS, CUT THE PLATES, SET THE TYPE AND PRINTED THE SHEETS AND PLATES at Contarini’s sprawling estate at Piazzola on the Brenta. There, he trained these thirty-eight girls in the arts, drama, music and book production. They executed these and other books under the direction of the Venetian printer Camillo Bortoli.
This festival book begins with a narrative of the entertainments — hunting, banquets and rural diversions — mounted during three days in August 1685 for Ernst August Duke of Braunschweig.
The FIVE ILLUSTRATED OPERA LIBRETTI sketch the action, indicate the number of singers, instrumentalists and extras (over one hundred fifty for Il Merito) and describe the sets and FANTASTIC THEATRICAL MACHINERY, including a six-horse carriage covered in gold and mirrors and AN AERIAL DRAGON FILLED WITH GIRLS. The operas presented on the villa’s canals employed the Bucintoro, the richly gilt Venetian state galley. The others were performed in Contarini’s private theater or in the vast palace courtyard. Domenico Freschi composed the music and Piccioli the lyrics.
I have located two complete copies in the U.S.; not in Vinet, Ruggieri or Piantanida. In excellent condition (minor repairs to blank versos of some plates with very slight loss to one).
¶Camerini, Piazzola nella sua storia e nell’ arte musicale 274-90 & 327-51; Saggiori, “Il ‘Luoco delle Vergini’ di Piazzola” in Libri e stampatori in Padova Miscellanea…in onore di G. Bellini (1959) 3-10; Watanabe-O’Kelly & Simon, Festivals & Ceremonies: A Bibliography 1453-8; Fumagalli, Dictionnaire géographique d’Italie 303.