SBARRA, Francesco (1611-1668). 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.
8vo., (6 2/8 x 4 inches). Fine folding etched additional title-page and 23 fine engraved folded etched plates by Matthaus Kusel (1629-81) after Ludovico Burnacini (1636-1707), in their first state (one plate loose, one plate with frayed fore-edge just affecting the image). Original red paper wrappers, original first and last blank leaves mounted as paste-downs, (worn with minor loss in one or two places). Modern red folding box.
Provenance: L'Art Ancien (cat. 45, no. 36, sold to Gourary 1956); The Paul and Marianne Gourary Collection of Illustrated Fete Books "Splendid Ceremonies", with their small bookplate on the inside front wrapper.
AN EXCEPTIONALLY FINE COPY OF THE EXCEEDINGLY RARE AND NOTORIOUSLY FRAGILE FIRST EDITION. This book contains the libretto and stage designs of the infamous Il Pomo d’Oro, an incredible opera produced at the Hapsburg court of the Holy Roman Empire in 1668.
The staging of Il Pomo d’Oro was an unprecedented affair with magnificent sets, costumes, and special effects which, if produced today, would be considered a summer blockbuster on the grandest scale. The entire affair is documented in the plates of this book, and one gets a true sense of the pageantry and grandeur of the great monarchies of the day. The opera was so long it had to be staged over the course of two days! Originally planned to mark the wedding of the Habsburg Holy Roman Emperor Leopold I and Margaret Theresa of Spain in 1666, it was instead put on to celebrate the Empress's 17th birthday two years later.
Melchior Küsel's fine plates illustrate each of Burnacini's elaborate sets. This extravagant production of "Il pomo d'oro", or "The Golden Apple", the classical Greek tale which begins with a beauty contest and ends in the Trojan War. This libretto by Sbarra was one of the most sumptuously produced and grandiose operas of the Baroque period, and has Jupiter present the golden apple to the new Empress Margarita as the most beautiful woman present. The event was the first held in the grand new theater in the Cortina of the Hofburg (now the National Library of Austria), designed by the celebrated imperial court engineer Lodovico Burnacini (1636-1707), who also designed the costumes and created a whopping 24 sets complete with elaborate stage machinery, including shipwrecks and collapsing towers. The music was composed by Pietro Antonio Cesti (1629-69), although only an incomplete score survives. Berlin 4126; Vinet 669; Ruggieri 967; not in Biach-Schiffmann, Giovanni und Ludovico Burnacini (Vienna 1931). For inquiries please contact Greg McMurray, MLS, Director, Rare Books.