Skip to main navigationSkip to main content
The University of Southampton
MusicPart of Humanities

Best Article Award for Valeria De Lucca

Published: 23 May 2014

Lecturer in Music Valeria De Lucca has just been awarded the J.M. Thomson Prize for best article by an early career scholar published in the journal Early Music in 2013. Valeria’s article "Dressed to Impress: The Costumes for Antonio Cesti’s Orontea in Rome (1661)" (Early Music 41 (2013), 461-475) uses archival documents such as account books, contemporary treatises and iconographic evidence to explore the function of stage costumes in early modern opera.

Account books recording the massive expenses of staging Cicognini and Cesti's popular work Orontea at Palazzo Colonna in Rome (1661) offer the opportunity not only to reconstruct what costumes might have looked like, but also to speculate on the reasons why stage costumes were considered such an essential element of an operatic performance. Valeria argues that costumes fulfilled three important functions.  Through the use of rare and precious fabrics, lace, real and fake jewels and precious stones, costumes aptly represented the wealth of the family sponsoring the event. Far from being mere decorative elements, however, they also served an important narrative function in the opera, helping the audience to recognize the characters, their social status, their provenance and their age. Finally, by blurring the boundary between reality and fiction, they were also a fundamental vehicle of operatic verisimilitude, helping the audience navigate the fluid territory between life on and off the stage and generating a sense of ‘marvel' that was central to Baroque aesthetics.

Related Staff Member

Privacy Settings