Renaissance in Italy; the age of the despots Volume 4

9780217270755: Renaissance in Italy; the age of the despots Volume 4

Excerpt: ...stage, was granted the vision of "Religion, habited in purest white, full of majesty, with the triple tiara and the crossed -327- keys of S. Peter, holding in her hand a large and most resplendent cross, adorned with diamonds, rubies and emeralds." The resources of a theater which could place so many actors on the stage at once, and attempt the illusion of clouds and angels, bringing into play the machinery of transformation scenes, and enriching the whole with a varied accompaniment of music, must have been considerable. Those who have spent an hour in the Teatro Farnese at Parma, erected of wood for a similar occasion, may be able to summon by the aid of the imagination a shadow of this spectacle before their eyes. That the effect was not wholly grotesque, though the motives were so hazardous, can be understood from Milton's description of the descent of Mercy in his Christmas Ode. 423 For the play of S. Uliva, though first known to us in a Florentine reprint of 1568, we may assume a more popular origin than that of Cecchi's Mystery of the Cross. It abounds in rare Renaissance combinations of pagan with Christian mythology. The action extended over two days and was interrupted at intervals by dumb shows and lyrical interludes connected only by a slight thread with the story. At one time a chase was brought upon the stage. On other occasions pictures, described with minute attention to details, were presented to the audience in Tableaux -328- Vivants. These pictures vividly recall the style of Florentine masters, Piero di Cosimo or Sandro Botticelli. "In the interval," say the stage-directions to the players, "you will cause three women, well-beseen, to issue, one of them attired in white, one in red, the other in green, with golden balls in their hands, and with them a young man robed in white; and let him, after looking many times first on one and then on another of these damsels, at last stay still and say the following...

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