Making of a Repertoire for German Theatre (1650–1730):
The Reception of Cicognini

Giacinto Andrea Cicognini (1606–1649) was one of the most successful dramatists of the second half of the seventeenth century, and his plays provided an important economic basis for the early professional troupes in the German-speaking area. After the Thirty Years’ War, German actors gradually emancipated themselves from the English troupes and their play texts by turning to translations from French and Italian. This was an important step towards building a German repertoire for a professional theatre. The reception of works by Cicognini in the German-speaking world began at the Court of Innsbruck, where Ferdinand Charles, Archduke of Austria, was the first to engage German players to form a court troupe. Cicognini’s suspenseful tragicomedies and libretti were well received by both an aristocratic audience and the general urban public.

This project systematically explores for the first time the reception in the German-speaking area of this almost forgotten dramatist, focusing on the development of a repertoire for German theatre in the period from 1650 to 1730.

Four related work packages have been defined to achieve this goal:

  • Available documents and data concerning the reception of Cicognini must be verified and saved, to which further information and material will be added. This information will be transferred to a web-based archive whose structure and functionality must be defined in such a way that a digital travelling troupe archive can be built up over the long term. Experts will be involved in the development of this web tool, which, after the completion of the project, will enable scholars investigating the German travelling theatre to share their research data.
  • The reception of Cicognini will be explored in a wider theatre-historical context. The international circulation of plays and plots, the interweaving of the different theatre forms in Germany and the se-lection criteria for the repertoire of professional troupes will be studied, taking into consideration the economic, organisational and practical aspects involved in the formation of a professional theatre.
  • The transformation of the Cicognini plays will be analysed on three different levels. The translations, the dramaturgical adaptations and the staging will be studied separately. In comparison with the staging done by courtiers and schools, the key question is, how the Cicognini plays were translated, adapted and staged by professional travelling troupes.
  • The four Cicognini translations from codex Ia 38.589 (Wienbibliothek) – Das verliebte und geliebte Ehrenbild, Glückselige Eyfersucht zwischen Rodrich und Delomira, Der durchleuchtige Schiffsadmi-ral Jason and Die durchleichtige Oronthea Königin von Aegypten – will be transcribed and edited, thus making German Cicognini adaptations from the seventeenth century available for the first time.

Overall, the project defines a field of research intended to serve as a starting point in laying new foundations for research on travelling theatre in the German-speaking area. In the long run, the collection of secured data in a digital archive will lessen the hitherto mostly fact-based orientation of research in this field in favour of more relevant questions concerning the struggle for survival by professional actors and cultural history as seen through their eyes.