ABSTRACT

One of the best sources for studying the relationship between Baroque music and ceremony in the Sistine Chapel is Andrea Adami’s Osservazioni per ben regolare il coro dei cantori della cappella pontificia from 1711. 1 The treatise gives information not only about the music that was sung in the chapel but also on ritual and theatrical elements of the performances. 2 The concept of theatricality is a difficult one, but it can loosely be defined as something that is similar to what is going on at the theater. 3 The difference between a purely religious rite and a theatrical event has been defined in relation to aspects of skills and style. “If certain acts have to be performed for religious reasons only, it is not necessary to do them skillfully. The skills are primarily displayed for the audience.” 4 When rituals are to be done gracefully and in coordination, it brings them closer to the aesthetics of the theater. “In other words: style and skills are some of the most outstanding elements which make the theatrical event theatrical.” 5 In a theatrical event, a world of intense elegance is realized for the audience and another one—a world of internal codes and disguised signals—is constructed for the performers. This setting up of distance is by necessity also the construction of volume and space: the theatrical event will have to make room for itself.