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Warrior, Courtier, Singer: Giulio Cesare Brancaccio and the Performance of Identity in the Late Renaissance

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Richard Wistreich


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Giulio Cesare Brancaccio was a Neapolitan nobleman with long practical experience of military life in the service of Charles V and he later served as a soldier and courtier in France and at the court of Alfonso II d'Este at Ferrara. He was also a virtuoso bass singer whose performances were praised by both Tasso and Guarini and the only male member of the famous Ferrarese court musica secreta, who established a legendary reputation during the 1580s. This book examines Brancaccio's life in detail and from this it becomes possible to consider the mental and social world of a warrior and courtier with musical skills in a broader context. A wide-ranging study of bass singing in sixteenth- and early seventeenth-century Italy provides a contextual basis from which to consider Brancaccio's reputation as a performer. The final two sections illustrate the use of music in the process of 'self-fashioning' and the role of performance of all kinds in the construction of male noble identity within court culture, including the nature and currency of honour, chivalric virtù and sixteenth-century notions of gender and virility in relation to musical performance. This fascinating examination of Brancaccio's social world significantly expands our understanding of noble culture in both France and Italy during the sixteenth century, and the place of music-making within it.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Wistreich R

Publication type: Authored Book

Publication status: Published

Year: 2007

Number of Pages: 332

Publisher: Ashgate

Place Published: Ashford UK

Library holdings: Search Newcastle University Library for this item

ISBN: 9780754654148