ABSTRACT

When in August 1705 cardinal Pietro Ottoboni organized a number of performances in the courtyard of his residence, the Palazzo della Cancelleria, of Il regno di Maria Vergine assunta in cielo, an oratorio written by himself and set to music by Alessandro Scarlatti, the writer of the avvisi for cardinal Galeazzo Marescotti reported that people flocked to it “to enjoy not only the exquisiteness of the musicians, but also the beauty of the illuminations.” 1 In fact, another contemporary source stated that some people stood so far away from the palace that they could not even hear the music, but “at least they enjoyed the grandiose sight” of the illuminations. 2 The following year, at the beginning of Holy Week on Wednesday March 31, Ottoboni had a Passion oratorio performed inside his palazzo. This time, another chronicler informs us, the hall only received light from a number of translucent, faux porphyry vases. 3