Opera and Spanish Jesuit Evangelization in the New World
As missionaries across the New World quickly discovered, Indians exhibited a strong attraction to music and song, but it was the Jesuits who were particularly adept at exploiting those musical interests to reinforce their argument that the Indians could adopt Christian faith, understand its principles, and live by its commands. One of the first operas in the New World is San Ignacio de Loyola (1720?), written by Domenico Zipoli, a famed Roman organ master, composer and Jesuit missionary. This essay brings to light the little known fact that Jesuit opera exists and also discusses how Zipoli's work was a unique collaboration between European missionaries and the Indians in the composition and performance of the music, as well as in the writing and singing of the Spanish libretto, which also included a parallel text in the native Chiquitos language.
This article is from Gestos 22, no. 44 (2007): 85–106. Posted with permission.