‘Real Basses, Real Men: Virtù and Virtuosity in the Construction of Noble Male Identity in Late Sixteenth-Century Italy'

Wistreich, R. (2013) ‘Real Basses, Real Men: Virtù and Virtuosity in the Construction of Noble Male Identity in Late Sixteenth-Century Italy'. In: Gesang zur Laute: TroJa Trossingen Jahrbuch für Renaissancemusik. Bärenreiter-Verlag, Kassel, pp. 59-80. ISBN 3-7618-1612-X

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Abstract

The prime category of identity for the ruling class as a social group in sixteenth-century Europe and on which they staked their claim to rule, was nobility. But the nobility saw their status not so much in terms of a birthright but rather as a quality that needed constantly to be reaffirmed through virtuous actions, an echo of chivalric romance. The fundamental uniting factor amongst male members of the nobility was the military calling andthe prime location for their acts of structured violence was war. When warriors are also courtiers, their actions on the stage of what a contemporary commentator describing the court, called the ‘teatro degl’ honori’ [‘the theatre of honours], involves a wide-ranging performative curriculum that includes many non-violent types of social discourse such as conversation, dancing, games and music-making. But to what extent do codes derived from militarism define the structures of this curriculum and its enactment? This paper looks at the case of one particularly remarkable Neapolitan ‘warrior-courtier’, who was also renowned in his lifetime as one of the most famous singers of his age. How does a noble man ‘perform his identity’ in music without jeopardizing his honor, his virtù, his masculinity?

Item Type: Book Section
Subjects: N Fine Arts > NX Arts in general
P Language and Literature > PB Modern European Languages
M Music and Books on Music > Music History
Division: History
Depositing User: Richard Wistreich
Date Deposited: 28 Apr 2017 16:29
Last Modified: 28 Apr 2017 16:29
URI: http://researchonline.rcm.ac.uk/id/eprint/138

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