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Biblioteca da Palacio Nacional da Ajuda




A third manuscript exists of these works is the most unusual and interesting in that it gives us some insight into the history of the period. The manuscript is held in the Biblioteca da Palacio Nacional da Ajuda. (Manuscript 46-II-49) and is titled:

‘Concertini per Camera a Quattro Voci e Basso’

The Ajuda Library.

The Ajuda Library was established after the Lisbon earthquake of 1755 to replace the court library of the royal palace which had been totally destroyed in the earthquake. From its creation it incorporated different collections, which were acquired, donated or in certain cases confiscated. They originally belonged to private owners, members of the royal family or religious institutions. The music collection itself contains the scores belonging to the eighteenth-century court theatres. The most important part which comprises several hundred manuscript scores of eighteenth-century opera which were acquired for the Royal theatres during the reigns of José I (1714-77) and his daughter Maria I (1734-1816).
    The Portuguese court had an interest in Italian music. During the period 1752 to 1792, the Portuguese court maintained a permanent operatic establishment which included Italian singers, dancers, architects and set designers. Besides being charged with hiring singers, dancers and players, the Portuguese consuls in Genoa supplied the Lisbon court theatres with scores, libretti, costumes, in fact everything that was required for Opera production.
It appears, however, that less than a third of the opera, scores preserved was actually performed in Lisbon, the remainder being held as part of the library.
    It is obvious that the court was interested in acquiring as much as possible of the repertory being produced in Italy. The court would then choose the works to be performed. As a source of information on the current Italian scene the court also recieved books relating to theatrical news, such as Caccio’s Indice de’ spettacoli teatrali di tutto l’anno.
Later in the century Portuguese diplomats in Italy were also requested to look for and acquire new music for the court. In a letter, dated 17 June 1782, to the ambassador in Rome, D. Diogo de Noronha, the Director of the Royal Theatres, Joăo António Pinto da Silva, requests him to send through the consul in Genoa those oratorios of which he had the best information.

Reggio’s Manuscript.

Reggio’s manuscript is unusual as it contains a printed title page. The dedication on this page reads:

Concertini per Camera a Quattro Voci e Basso
consagrati alla Maesta Fedelissima
di Giuseppe I
Re di Portugallo e Algarvia’

It is a copy dedicated to King José I Emanuele di Braganza who reigned from 1750 to 1777. It is also evident that this manuscript was part of the collection of the Royal family as it is entered as a tranch volume added to the library at a later date.
    The page was engraved and printed by the prominent Roman engraver and printer Antonino Cleton. Cleton was active in Rome between 1730 and 1763. This is the only known manuscript of a work by Reggio which has a printed title page.
    The most interesting aspect of this manuscript is a handwritten dedication, and signed by Reggio. This is the only document, found to date, which includes Reggio’s signature and indication he was the composer of the works. The manuscripts in Münster are annotated Anto Reggio but in a different hand, probably Santini’s when he acquired the works.
 
Reggio’s Dedication:
 


‘As a sign of my deep allegiance to your majesty, originated in large part by the clemency with which you welcomed me when, from the Supreme Pontiff Benedict XIV, I was destined to convey the Cardinal’s Beretta to Cardinal Tempi, apostolic nuncio to your majesty, I come with humility to your Royal throne these ‘Concerti da Camera’ composed by me in recent months, with hope that V. M. will kindly appreciate them, more concerned than the insignificance of the gift, is the nature with which I introduce myself to you.  And making a deep bow, I eternally declare myself.’

The reference to the Cardinal’s ‘Beretta’ refers back to 1754 when Reggio was the courier to the Apostolic Nuncio to Portugal, Archbishop Tempi. In 1754 Tempi was made cardinal for his service in Portugal. The investiture is recorded in a contemporary French court circular dated November 1754. The report gives details of the audience with the pope on 28th November where he invested eleven cardinals, including Tempi. The article makes reference to the carrying of the cardinal’s ‘Beretta’ by Reggio:

‘On dépęcha la meme jour des Couriers aux Cardinaux … pour leur announcer la nouvelle de leur Promotion. La Barette sera portée au Cardinal Tempi, par Don Antoine Reggio’

(Despatched the same day the couriers of Cardinals …  to announce the news of their promotion. The ‘Beretta’ was carried for Cardinal Tempi by Don Antonio Reggio)

Reggio was entrusted with the task of carrying back to Lisbon the cardinal’s ‘Beretta’ to Cardinal Tempi as a notification of his promotion. This is also mentioned in a note in a note to Eustachio duca di Laviefuille, Viceré di Sicilia dal 1747 al 1753, held in the Archivio di Stato di Napoli, dated 15 December 1753,

Eccellentissimo Signore
Su incarico del Re chiedo a Vostra Eccellenza che tenga presente, nelle vacanze (forse vuol dire:”quando si libereranno dei posti o si presenterŕ l’opportunitŕ”), le Abbazie ed i benefici di questo Regno all’Abate Don Antonio Reggio …. che si trova in Roma, destinato dal Papa a consegnare la Berretta Cardinalizia all’attuale Nunzio in Portogallo


(On behalf of the king I ask your excellence that takes this, in holidays  the abbeys and the benefits of this realm to the abate Don Antonio Reggio.... who is in Rome, intended by the Pope to deliver the Cardinal’s Berretta to the current Nuncio in Portugal.)















©Anthony Hart  2011