28503 - Musical Dramaturgy (LM)

Academic Year 2023/2024

Learning outcomes

The course aims at providing an approach to and a grasp of Musical Dramaturgy in its basic historical and critical principles.
According to the tenets of the discipline, opera is conceived as an intertwined system of verbal text, dramatic action, and music.
In turn, such a system requires a contextualization within the history of Western music as well as within the history of Western theatre and literature.
At the same time, the course aims at training students in the analysis of operatic music, from both a morphological and a theatrical perspective.

Course contents

«Son regina e sono amante»: the myth of Dido in baroque opera

In the course of the lessons, students will be guided in the dramaturgical and morphological analysis of a series of drammi per musica centred on the myth of Dido and Aeneas, composed and performed between the 17th and 18th century for the Italian and European stage. In particular, La Didone by G.F. Busenello and F. Cavalli (1641), Dido and Aeneas by N. Tate and H. Purcell (c. 1689) and various versions of P. Metastasio's Didone abbandonata (1724-).

Particular attention will be paid to the dramatic sources of the operas and the main dramaturgical-musical devices that guided their writing, in relation to the theatrical and musical tradition of the 17th and 18th century.


For all student (Music and Theatre):

For Music students:

  • the score of La Didone by F. Cavalli (see didactic resources online and this link);
  • the score of H. Purcell, Dido and Aeneas, ed. by R. Shay, Kassel, Bärenreiter, 2023;
  • pieces from Didone abbandonata will be distributed during the lessons.

For all student (Music and Theatre):

Rudiments of musical dramaturgy:

Rudiments of Italian metrics and prosody:

  • P. Fabbri, Metro e canto nell'opera italiana, Turin, EDT, 2007.

On baroque Opera:

  • E. Rosand, Opera in Seventeenth-Century Venice: The Creation of a Genre, Berkley, University of California Press, 1991.
  • N. Badolato, Amazzoni e sovrani, la festa e il teatro pubblico, in Il contributo italiano alla storia del pensiero – Musica, ed. by S. Cappelletto, Rome, Istituto per l’Enciclopedia Italiana, 2017, pp. 156-163.
  • W. Heller, Didone and the Voice of Chastity, in Emblems of Eloquence: Opera and Women’s Voices in Seventeenth-Century Venice, Berkeley, University of California Press, 2004.
  • D. Fabris, Didone by Cavalli and Busenello: From the Sources to Modern Productions,«De musica disserenda», III/2, 2007, pp. 135-155.
  • P. Weiss, L’opera italiana nel ’700, ed. by R. Mellace, introduction by L. Bianconi, Rome, Astrolabio, 2013 (in part. chapter 4: L'epoca di Metastasio, pp. 95-134).
  • E. T. Harris, Henry Purcell’s "Dido and Æneas", Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1987.
  • T. M. Gialdroni,I primi dieci anni della Didone abbandonata di Metastasio: Il caso di Domenico Sarro, in Studien zur italienischen Musikgeschichte, ed. by Friedrich Lippmann, Laaber, Laaber Verlag, pp. 437-500.
  • E. Sala Di Felice, "Didone abbandonata": dall’esordio del drammaturgo alle fortune del dramma, in Il giovane Metastasio / Der junge Metastasio, ed.by F. Cotticelli e R. Eisendle, Wien, Hollitzer, 2021, pp. 33-52.

Teaching methods

Frontal lessons, workshops and practices on score and libretto. Viewing of audiovisual materials.

Assessment methods

During the exam (oral interview) students will have to demonstrate their knowledge about the bibliography. 

Students in Music are required to know the scorese; they will report on the poetic, narrative, and theatrical structure; on musical morphology; on the relations with literary sources.

Students in Theatre and other degree courses are exempt from the in-depth knowledge of the score; but they will have to know the operas on the basis of a repeated listening and analysis of the poetic, narrative, and theatrical structure (also in relation to the literary source).

During the interview, rudiments of Italian metrics and versification will be ascertained.

Students who intend to account for only 6 CFU will agree a reduced program with the teacher (<nicola.badolato@unibo.it>.

Teaching tools

Collateral activities will be announced at the beginning of the class.

Didactic materials will be soon available online.

Office hours

See the website of Nicola Badolato


Quality education

This teaching activity contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.