Composer: Luigi Mancia (1658 - 17_?)
Title: Star vicino from Il re infante
Editor: John Glenn Paton
Voice: Medium-High Voice
Original Key: A Major
Range: E4 - #5 (optional A5)
"Star vicino" has been a famous song for more than two centuries, and yet it has not been published in an authentic form until now. Editors who have published the charming melody previously did not know that the composer intended it tobe a much longer song, with a contrasting second section and a retum, in other words, a da capo aria.
Luigi Mancia (Brescia, 1658 - 17_?) was a singer, instrumentalist, composer and diplomat. In 1687 he sang in Hannover, Germany, where he also wrote his first opera. After returning to Italy, he composed three operas in Rome, including Il re infante (Tue Child King) in 1696. Tue title refers to a king who is too young to rule independently and whose place is taken by a regent until he matures.
In the1600s audiences were used to hearing only new operas. As operas came and went quickly, the scores were seldom printed. Instead, a score would stay in the library of a theater. There was no copyright law, and an interested customer could pay a professional scribe to copy out particular arias for his or her private use.
One such opera fan in Rome had ✓' Star vicino" copied into a bound book of music lined paper that already contained 20 other arias and cantatas and later had even more numbers added to it. Some of the earlier musical items in the book have texts by a famous painter, Salvator Rosa (1615 - 1673), and the book may have once belonged to him. His name is on the cover of the book, but most of the musical numbers, like "Star vicino," come from operas that were composed long after he died. Rosa may have written his name on the book or someone eise did so after his death to raise its value.
In 1770, nearly a century after Rosa's death, an English musician, Dr. Charles Bumey, visited Rome to learn about Italian music. He met Rosa's great-granddaughter, who sold him some etchings and the book of music that she said had been composed by Rosa. Enthusiastic about his discovery, Burney devoted several pages to the "music-book of Salvator Rosa" in A General History of Music (London, 1776-1789). Among the musical examples from Rosa's book, Burney quoted 16 measures of "Star vicino." He did not mention that there was a second part to the aria, and it remained unknown to the public. Some editors in the 1800s lengthened the aria by repeating the music and inventing a second stanza of text.
Burney's influential publication persuaded his readers that Rosa was a many-sided genius: painter, poet, musician, composer. This false notion appealed to artists of the Romantic era, including Franz Liszt, who wrote a piano transcription of a song by Rosa
(actually composed by Giovanni Bononcini). Rosa appeared as a supposed musician in two novels, two operas, and a ballet.
Frank Walker, an English musicologist, learned in 1949 that the Rosa music book had emerged from a private collection and was for sale. The dealer allowed Walker to study the precious book, and he published his study, "Salvator Rosa and Music" (Monthly Musical Record, October 1949). He identified the true composers of many items in the manuscript, and thus debunked the legend of Rosa as a composer.
During the process of editing 26 Italian Songsand Arias (Alfred Publishing, Van Nuys CA, 1991), I leamed that the Rosa book was owned by a French musicologist, Genevieve Thibault de Chambure. I did not yet know that she had died and that her collection of musical scores and instruments had gone to the Bibliotheque Nationale in Paris. After leaming its current location, I was able to examine the Rosa book in 2004. "Star vicino" appears there in the key of D major, for alto voice and bassa continuo. lt is 63 measures long, corresponding to measures 24-86 of this present edition.
Two American musicologists provided other important facts: Prof. Margaret Murata (University of California at Irvine) published an article, "Dr. Burney Bought a Music Book..." (Journal of Musicology, Winter 1999), offering many more details than Walker's article. She wrote that in a personal communication to her, Prof. Lowell Lindgren (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) had identified the composer and the operatic source of "Star vicino."
When my recent plan to visit Florence and consult the original score of Mancia's II re infante was cancelled, I called on a singer/musician in Florence, Tommaso Corvaja, for a favor. He went to the library of the Conservatorio di Musica Luigi Cherubini, consulted the historic score, photographed nine relevant pages, and emailed them to me. With his friendly help, I had all of the information needed to prepare an authentic edition.
This is the first publication of "Star vicino" in its complete form. lt includes a few measures of the scene in recitative that precedes the aria, an intervening instrumental ritornello, and the aria in its original key, A major. The ritornello is scored for five-part strings: two violins, two violas, and a bass part, probably played by a cello and a bass. The keyboard realization of the recitative and aria is by this editor; players should feel free to change it as they wish. Ornamentations in the da capo are not authoritative, but are suggestions only.
John Glenn Paton Emeritus professor of music, University of Colorado at Boulder
Los Angeles, California, 2020
NATS Texoma New Edition