The Kennedy Center

Carlo Pallavicino



Biography

Italian composer Carlo Pallavicino  wrote more than 20 operas, which premiered in the cities where he worked during his life: Venice, Italy and Dresden, Germany. He also wrote oratorios and sacred works.
Pallavicino began his musical career as a church organist in 1665-66 in Padua, Italy. His first operas were staged in Venice, Italy in 1666. He moved on to the Dresden, Germany court in 1667, where he was a choirmaster for a few years.  After that period, he returned to his organist position in Venice. He became the musical director of a Venice conservatory that provided musical training for orphaned children.  Then, in 1685, he resumed his post in Dresden and then became director of chamber and theater music in 1687.
Two of his operas were staged in Dresden, but he continued to compose mainly for Venice.

Of Pallavicino’s operas, Vespasiano (staged in 1678 in Venice) was his most popular. Pallavicino’s melodic writing in his operas is inventive, and he increasingly used “da capo” arias, rather than just simple songs. A da capo aria was more complex because it was composed in three sections: the first is a complete musical entity and can stand alone, the second is meant to contrast in mood and texture with the first, and the third is designed for the singer to go back to the beginning section (“da capo” is Italian for “from the head”) and repeat it, but to improvise on that section’s music with variations and ornamentations.
Carlo Pallavicino