«Antique» Musical Instruments in the Intermedi for the Wedding of Cosimo I de’ Medici and Eleonora da Toledo (1539)


The use of «antique» musical instruments in the Renaissance theatrical performances was as frequent as their occurrence in the fine arts of the time. Whenever a mythological or allegorical character was brought into play its appearance and behaviour had to follow the strict guidelines of contemporary iconography: Apollo, for example, had to play his lyre and Pan had to play his syrinx. That wasn’t, however, the only requirement to be met. An iconographically correct performance had to be accompanied with «correct» sound, i. e. one which complied both with contemporary musical tradition and rediscovered antique models. In this article we make an attempt to understand the way in which antique sources had influenced the representation of «antique» musical instruments at one particular performance, the intermedi by G. B. Strozzi, performed July 1539 at the wedding of Cosimo I de’ Medici and Eleonora da Toledo. The russian translation (by the author of the article) of the excerpts from P. F. Giambullari’s Apparato et feste that contain a thorough description of Strozzi’s intermedi is included in the appendix