Fruits of the Cross

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In this first detailed study of seventeenth-century sepolcri, semi-staged sacred operas performed on Holy Thursday and Good Friday, Robert L. Kendrick delves into the political and artistic world of Habsburg Vienna where music and ritual combined on the stage to produce a thoroughly original art form that would impact music and performance across early modern Europe. Through the use of allegorical characters, the messages in the plays ranged from the devotionally intense, to the theologically complex, to the ugly anti-Jewish, and played a unique role in making Passion piety both articulate and relevant to wider cultural concerns. Beyond the slightly worn historiographic generalizations on Habsburg religiosity (pietas Austriaca), Fruits of the Cross suggests that understanding the sepolcri has implications for ritual theater as a whole in early modern Europe, the theatricalization of devotion, the power of allegory, the role of queenship in court ideology, the interplay between visuality and music, and not least the intellectual centrality of music theater to court self-understanding.
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