Please consult our COVID-19 policies and resources for guidance on attending public performances.

Loading Events

The Court Jester and the Black Castrato: Giovannino Buonaccorsi at the Medici Court

Musicology Colloquium Series

Presented by Princeton University Music Department

date & time

Fri, Sep 9, 2022
4:30 pm
- 6:30 pm

ticketing

Free, unticketed

  • This event has passed.

The Musicology Colloquium series presents a talk by Professor Emily Wilbourne.

Giovannino Buonaccorsi was an enslaved, Black soprano singer, active at the Florentine court from at least 1651 until his death on August 15, 1674. A wealth of archival detail relating to Buonaccorsi is extant, including payment records, opera libretti, scores, descriptions, letters, costume designs, a portrait, and a poem attributed to him. He sang chamber music at the court, performed in a series of operas in mid-century Florence, and at least one season on the public stage in Venice. Buonaccorsi is thus the rare seventeenth-century Black performer whose life in Italy can be documented with any accuracy. In many ways, Buonaccorsi is a singular figure, yet my time in the archives makes perfectly clear that Buonaccorsi was but one of numerous court retainers who were racially or ethnically marked and who labored as entertainers, including singers, dancers, trumpet players, and buffoons. In this paper, I consider Buonaccorsi as a jester figure and as a Black castrato singer with a marked and characteristic relationship to musical performance as labor.

Emily Wilbourne specializes in Italian theatrical music and sound during the seventeenth century, and in questions of embodiment, performance, race, gender, and sexuality. Her first book, Seventeenth-Century Opera and the Sound of the Commedia dell’Arte, was published in 2016 by Chicago University Press, and an edited collection in honor of Suzanne G. Cusick appeared as a special issue of Women & Music: A Journal of Gender and Culture in 2015. Dr. Wilbourne’s articles have appeared in the Journal of the American Musicological SocietyWomen & MusicRecercareTeatro e storiaItalian StudiesEcho, and Workplace, as well as in several Oxford Handbooks. She authored the Oxford Bibliographies entry on “Music and Gender and Sexuality.” In 2011, Dr. Wilbourne was awarded the Philip Brett Award for excellence in queer music scholarship for her article, “Amor nello specchio (1622): Mirroring, Masturbation, and Same-Sex Love”; in 2017-18, she was the Francesco De Dombrowski Fellowship at the Harvard University Center for Renaissance Studies at Villa I Tatti in Florence. Since 2017, Dr. Wilbourne has been Editor-in-Chief of Women & Music.​

Click here for more about Dr. Wilbourne.



« Back to events calendar

Emily Wilbourne specializes in Italian theatrical music and sound during the seventeenth century, and in questions of embodiment, performance, race, gender, and sexuality. Her first book, Seventeenth-Century Opera and the Sound of the Commedia dell’Arte, was published in 2016 by Chicago University Press, and an edited collection in honor of Suzanne G. Cusick appeared as a special issue of Women & Music: A Journal of Gender and Culture in 2015. Dr. Wilbourne’s articles have appeared in the Journal of the American Musicological SocietyWomen & MusicRecercareTeatro e storiaItalian StudiesEcho, and Workplace, as well as in several Oxford Handbooks. She authored the Oxford Bibliographies entry on “Music and Gender and Sexuality.” In 2011, Dr. Wilbourne was awarded the Philip Brett Award for excellence in queer music scholarship for her article, “Amor nello specchio (1622): Mirroring, Masturbation, and Same-Sex Love”; in 2017-18, she was the Francesco De Dombrowski Fellowship at the Harvard University Center for Renaissance Studies at Villa I Tatti in Florence. Since 2017, Dr. Wilbourne has been Editor-in-Chief of Women & Music.​

Click here for more about Dr. Wilbourne.


back to events calendar

Stay ConnectedSubscribe to receive the latest news & Music Department event details!