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Il terzo atto al San Carlo di Napoli nell’ultimo trentennio del Settecento: declino, atrofizzazione, scomparsa


In the last decades of the eighteenth century, the third act of opera seria was gradually reduced in importance and dimensions until it disappeared altogether. The article studies this process in relation to the repertoire of the San Carlo theatre in Naples from 1771 on, with special attention to the intertwining of dramaturgical choices and audience’s behavior. The examination of a large number of librettos and scores makes it possible to fix reliable chronological terms. After an isolated episode in 1780, the adfirmation of the two-act model can be traced back to the 1786-1787 season. The new formula quickly took hold, but three-act operas continued to be performed - with ever decreasing frequency - at least until 1794.