Don Chisciotte in corte della duchessa
By Giovanni Claudio Pasquini.
Introduction, critical edition and comments by Fabio Bertini.
Translation by Agapita Jurado Santos.
Having arrived in Charles VI’s Vienna after a daring escape from Rome and from the ravages of Cardinal Coscia thanks to the help of a group of many other cardinals, it seems that Giovanni Claudio Pasquini was entrusted to the teaching of the official court poet at the time, Apostolo Zeno, for an apprenticeship that was necessary for the task performed at the imperial Hofkapelle. The incompatibility of character between the two authors appears very soon; in fact, the writing phases of Don Chisciotte in corte della duchessa, dated between the end of 1726 and the beginning of 1727 —in view of the carnival representation of that year—, are the same that mark and feed the insurmountable contrast between the noblesse of the Venetian scholar and the frank intemperance of the Sienese, who, with little tolerance for the supervisor’s biting censorship, seems to be pursuing the path of artistic emancipation, achieved —it is said— at the cost of “an ingratitude that caused a scandal”. From this contrasting relationship, the rapid consecutio temporum within which the whole of the work takes shape around the libretto in progress leaves traces, which testify to Zeno’s revisions, to which the text had been subjected on more than one occasion.
In the almost three years that elapsed between the elaboration of the plot and the voluntary departure of Zeno, who returned to Venice at the end of November 1729, the relations with the Sienese seemed to be irremediably compromised and they probably were. However, indirectly, right in the field of quixotic matter, Pasquini’s wandering knight wins the mockery years later, perhaps because of those Zenian traces in the text, and with the complicity of fate and Gasparo Gozzi: wrongly attributed to the courtier Zeno, it is included in the princeps anthology of his theatrical texts, together with which it is printed again by the publisher Pasquali, in 1744.