This chapter traces the reception of Rousseau’s melodrama Pygmalion on the Italian peninsula during the final decades of the eighteenth century. It argues that these decades also saw a renewed impetus for a revival of the ancient Greek and Roman speech-song—an impetus that can be found within Rousseau’s musical writings and within the invention and reception of melodrama itself. A kind of Italian opera that drew on the themes and techniques of melodrama came into being in Venice in the 1790s.
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