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Panat Times

Volume 1, redone Dec. 2014


Volume 1


Orest's Pages

Patricia's Musings



Musical Rhetoric

Transcribed Sources


Paolo Lorenzani, Scaramouche, and the Florentines in Paris

We know that Paolo Lorenzani was a chapel master in Rome, then at Messina. He came to Paris during the summer of 1678, quickly won the approval of Louis XIV, and by June 1679 had been appointed surintendant of the Queen’s Music, succeeding Boesset. We know that his Nicandro e Filena was performed at Fontainebleau in 1681, and a Sérénade en forme d’opéra (a collaborative effort with Delalande) in 1682. After the Queen’s death in the summer of 1683, Lorenzani began writing for the Théàtre Italien (1684) and the Theatines (1685-87). (For an online biography of Lorenzani, see

These following information about Lorenzani, 1678-1687, support the above chronology; but they provide some new and very precious tidbits about his career in Paris, and about Italian music at the court of Louis XIV during the 1670s and 1680s.

1678–79: Lorenzani’s first year in Paris

18 November 1678: Giovanni Paolo Gondi, Resident for the Grand Duke of Tuscany in Paris, comments that Louis XIV very much likes Italian music, and is especially enthusiastic about the music of Lorenzani, one of the best composers in Rome. One (or more?) of the Florentines in Paris has begun to prepare a libretto to be performed before the King, "in a private place" of his choice, during Carnaval of 1679. Lorenzani will set it to music. The discussion about the libretto is quite detailed: it is a wonderful source about Italian musical aesthetics of the late 1670s. (4820)

25 November 1678: There is a sort of post-scriptum to Gondi’s letter of 18 November, in which he continues his discussion of what constitutes the ideal operatic libretto. He again refers to Lorenzani, who "is at my home today" and who is eager to get to work on the opera. (4820)

26 September 1681: Gondi reports that the King wanted to hear a little opera entirely of Italian music. The words are by the Duke of Nevers (Mazarin’s nephew, Paolo Mancini), and the music by Lorenzani. The performance took place in the Galerie des Cerfs of the chateau of Fontainebleau, where a stage had been constructed for the event. The King and Queen enjoyed it very much and everyone applauded greatly, for the music was extremely pleasing. (4676)

1682: Resident Zipoli has taken Lorenzani under his wing

31 July 1682: The new resident, Zipoli, writes Florence about Lorenzani and his complaining: the weather is "too cold," the food is not to his taste, he finds his lodgings uncomfortable. (4791)

7 September 1682: There is more talk of Lorenzani, and in some detail. For example, Zipoli alludes to a "furnished room," and he comments favorably on the possibility that Lorenzani may move nearer to his own lodgings. This will make it easier to "converse with Signor Lorenzani." (4826)

4 April 1683: Rather impromptu, Zipoli was invited to Versailles, for a performance of Lorenzani’s Il Moretto. (4791)

1683: Lorenzani gravitates toward the Theatines of Saint-Anne-la-Royale

14 April 1683 (and other letters from around that time): Zipoli refers several times to Lorenzani and the Theatines. (4791)

10 September 1683: There is a long discussion about "Scaramouche," and about his son's desire to go back to Italy. (4791)

6 August 1685: Lorenzani has "received a licence" from the King for a weekly musical service at the Theatines, who have created a Devotion to the Souls in Purgatory. (4791)

13 September 1685: Zipoli notes that Lorenzani's music is wonderful. He provides details bout a forthcoming musical event: "All the foreign ministers" have given money to pay for the music, and seats will be rented for 10 sous each. (4677)

Monday, 1 October 1685: Zipoli states that, on the previous Wednesday [26 September], the first service in the new "devotion" for the Souls in Purgatory was held at the Theatine church, "with music by Lorenzani." There was "great applause and a large crowd." (4677)

7 January 1686: After referring to a beefsteak that Mme de Toscane’s maidservant, "La Cinthia," fixed for him (!), Zipoli informs Florence that he had arranged for the girl to get off work on "Wednesday morning," and he took her in a coach to service at the Theatines, that is, to the Wednesday devotions organized by Lorenzani. The music included a motet by Lorenzani, one of the loveliest ever heard. Zipoli hopes that the "commedia" – that is, the opera – by Signor Morelli can be sung soon – and in the next breath he alludes to Mme de Toscane, Montmartre, and his hope that a coach will be made available. (4792)

1687: Lorenzani and Vigarani collaborate on a Te Deum

6 January 1687, a French newsletter: "On continue de faire des prieres dans toutes les Eglises en actions de graces du restablissement de la santé du Roy. M. de Lully a deja fait repeter un Te Deum de sa composition dans l'Eglise des Feuillants. Il y aura une decoration magnifique, et 200 voix ou instruments. Les fermiers generaux en font preparer un dont l'appareil surpassera tout ce qui s'est fait jusqu'à present. Mr Vigarani aura la conduite de la decoration et Mr Lorenzani fera la musique." (4792)

10 January 1687, Atto Melani tells about the Te Deum that Lorenzani is preparing, it will be "according to the usage of Rome and Italy for the Church." Above all, Lorenzani’s music receives more applause than Lully’s. (4802)

13 January 1687, a French newsletter: "Les Feuillants firent une grande feste mercredy dernier à leur Eglise pour le restablissement de la santé du Roy. Mr de Lully fit a musique et les Religieux la decoration. Il y eut Salut et exposition du St Sacrement; et on y mena neantmoins les Siamois." (4792)

20 January 1687: Zipoli writes about Mlle de Guise’s Te Deum at Montmartre, and also the Te Deum that Lorenzani wrote for Jacobins of the rue St. Honoré, with an "illumination" by Vigarani. (4792)

27 January 1687, a French newsletter: "Les deux festes les plus considerables ont esté celles que Madlle de Guise fit à Montmartre il y a 8 jours, et celle que les fermiers generaux [i.e. Lorenzani's] ... Cette derniere a esté trouvée la plus belle de toutes, tant par la justesse du dessein de la decoration ...que par la beauté de la musique composée par M. Lorenzani. Toute l'Eglise estoit tenduë des belles tapisseries des actes des Apotres. Il y avoit une tablette qui regnoit des 2 costés et elle estoit toute chargée de bougies. avec des girandoles d'espace en espace sous des cherubins qui estoit bordés de petites lumières. Les lustres estoient disposés en quincunce en sorte qu'il y en avoit un, puis deux, l'un sur l'autre, tout autour de l'eglise, et le milieu estoit vuide afin de laisser toute la perspective de l'autel qui estoit aussy tout esclairé de bougies et de lampes avec un effet merveilleux. La porte de l’Eglise estoit couverte d'une grande illumination qui representoit une ordre d'architecture antiques [sic] avec deux grandes figures en deux niches, les armes du roi au dessus de l'entablement. A l'opposite au dedans de la cour il y avoit une autre [sic] grand tableau illuminé representant le triomphe de la religion catholique et le portrait du Roy au dessus avec ces mots: Te sospite tota triumphat." (4792)