THE MEDICI WEDDING OF 1589 by James M. Saslow


Florentine Festival as Theatrum Mundi
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 A detailed account of theatrical pageants celebrating one of the most sumptuous weddings of Renaissance Italy. Ferdinando de' Medici had been a cardinal since age 14 and was known as a religious reformer and a patron of the arts. The death of his elder brother forced him to leave the church to rescue the dynasty from extinction. His marriage to Christine de Lorraine cemented an important political alliance and brought Florence an enormous dowry from the French. Saslow (Art History/Queens College) guides us through the ten months of preparations for the events and the actual pageants, which began with Christine's arrival at Livorno on April 24 and lasted until June 8. Attractions included triumphal entries, mock naval battles against the Turks, and a soccer match. Saslow is particularly interested in the series of intermedi, which were allegorical tableaux inserted between the acts of comedies in the Medici Theater. They involved the use of instrumental music, song, dance, and splendid costumes and stage designs, and they featured classical characters, such as nymphs and shepherds, Bacchus and Apollo, and the figures of Rhythm and Harmony--all glorifying the ruling couple and wishing them offspring. Saslow is a conscious admirer of Michel Foucault (he tends to write like him), and he interprets this rich material both as fine art and as an artifact of social and political control. Drawing on published texts, sketches, paintings and prints (many of which are superbly reproduced here), and manuscript sources, such as stage manager Girolamo Seriacopi's daily production logbook, our author explores such details of backstage life as salaries, working conditions, and the incipient roles of women. Valuable reading for students of Renaissance society and the performing arts.

Pub Date: June 1st, 1996
ISBN: 0-300-06447-0
Page count: 352pp
Publisher: Yale Univ.
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1st, 1996