Janie Cole
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Representations of female power
Musical spectacle at the Paris court of Maria de’ Medici, the Italian Minerva of France
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Starting with Giambattista Guarini and Emilio de’ Cavalieri’s theatrical dialogue Giunone e Minerva, performed in Florence in 1600 for the wedding of Maria de’ Medici and Henry IV of France, this chapter analyses the Florentine-designed iconography adopted by Maria in her patronage of French court spectacle and her development of powerful personal representations using female imagery and the Astraean cult as part of a series of transnational exchanges and appropriations between Florence and Paris. Drawing on new archival finds (previously unknown eyewitness accounts of Maria’s 1609 Ballet de la Royne), this essay publishes the discovered documents and argues that Maria was highly active as a patron of court productions while deploying a personal imagery soon after her ascent to the French monarchy (1600) and throughout her regency (1610–17). The essay explores the inclusion of the avant-garde Florentine style of solo singing imported to Paris, showing that despite French preference for ballet de cour, Maria promoted imported Italian musical fashions. Maria’s court productions combined a transnational cultural heritage, including new musical forms (accompanied monody), theatrical models (commedia dell’arte) and prestigious Italian musicians and poets.

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