ANTONIO CESTI (1623 - 1669)
Cesti, Antonio (1623–1669)
The leading Italian composer of his time, Cesti, a Franciscan friar, made an important contribution to the development of Italian opera, primarily as a composer but also as a singer. He profited from the patronage of the Medici and from that of the Archduke Karl Ferdinand in Innsbruck. He was finally employed in the Imperial service in Vienna.
Cesti’s operas range from works for the public theatres of Venice to private court entertainments. The former include Orontea, while La Dori was first staged in Innsbruck and the famous and extended Il pomo d’oro (‘The Golden Apple’) was mounted in Vienna in 1668. He was regarded as a serious rival to Cavalli, otherwise Monteverdi’s successor.
Secular Vocal Music
Cesti wrote a number of secular cantatas. These include the dramatic Lamento della Madre Ebrea (‘Lament of the Hebrew Mother’), which reflects the emotions of a Jewish mother, obliged by starvation to kill her children as the armies of Rome approach Jerusalem