Philippe Casanova, Palazzo Pallavicini, 1995

We are writing the history of the performing arts in Rome

Music, theatre and dance in the palaces of the Roman aristocracy in the 17th and 18th centuries

PerformArt is a programme financed by the European Research Council, hosted by the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, in partnership with the École Française de Rome.
The project, which is coordinated by Anne-Madeleine Goulet (Centre d’études supérieures de la Renaissance de Tours), was inaugurated on 1st September 2016 and is due to be concluded on 31st August 2021.



Why the performing arts in Rome in the 17th and 18th centuries?

Research Team

We have mobilised archivists and researchers from a variety of disciplines


A variety of events will mark the project over the five years of its duration


Tools and links for additional information

25 October 2019: Anne-Madeleine Goulet takes part in the study day entitled «Le langage des présents. Choix, circulation et signification des présents d’apparat à l’époque moderne (XVIe-XVIIIe siècle)»

October 25, 2019: Anne-Madeleine Goulet participates in the study day organized by Maelig Chauvin and Johannes Schwabe: «Le langage des présents. Choix, circulation et signification des présents d’apparat à l’époque moderne (XVIe-XVIIIe siècle)», at the INHA in...

3-4 June 2019: Christine Jeanneret organises the Workshop «Cosmopolitanism, Cultural Exchange, Performing Arts, and Transnational History between France and Denmark (1660-1800)»

On 3 and 4 June 2019, the Workshop "Cosmopolitanism, Cultural Exchange, Performing Arts, and Transnational History between France and Denmark (1660-1800)", organised by our collaborator Christine Jeanneret (The Danish National Museum at Frederiksborg Castle -...

April 16, 2019: seminar on “Roman families and the Arcadia: commission, production methods, differences” with Prof. Melania Bucciarelli and Arnaldo Morelli in the presence of the PerformArt team

For the scientific seminar n. 8 of the PerformArt project, organized by Teresa Chirico and Barbara Nestola we will welcome Prof. Melania Bucciarelli (Norwegian University of Science and Technology) and Prof. Arnaldo Morelli (University of L'Aquila). It will take...

10th Aprile 2019: paper by Aldo Roma on “Features and functions of the scholastic academies: the case of the Piarist”

On the 10th of April 2019, the Accademia della Crusca in Florence will host the International Seminar on Seventeenth-century Tuscan Academies among arts, letters and epistolary networks, organised by the CISS – Centro Internazionale di Studi sul Seicento...

21 March 2019

On the 21st of March, Elodie Oriol will present a paper entitled “Visibilité et invisibilité des musiciennes dans l’Italie des XVIIeet XVIIIesiècles » at the Association Croix-Rousse Histoire de l’Art situated in Lyon

8th March 2019: paper by Anne-Madeleine Goulet on «Magnificence and issues of power in the 17th century»

On the 8th of March, Anne-Madeleine Goulet will participate in a conference entitled, “Magnificence in the 17th century. Performing Splendour in Catholic and Protestant Contexts”. Her paper’s title is : Magnificence and issues of power in the 17th century....

19th February 2019: Presentation of PerformArt on the Website Il Mondo degli Archivi!

19th February 2019: Presentation of PerformArt, by Anne-Madeleine Goulet, on the Website Il Mondo degli Archivi: “Spettacoli e magnificenza aristocratica a Roma tra il XVII e il XVIII secolo: un’indagine collettiva negli archivi di famiglia”

PerformArt in the Bollettino della Fondazione Camillo Caetani n°4-5

An update on research being conducted by Élodie Oriol and Marco Cavietti, who are studying the Caetani Family archives. This article presents the research project, which includes its aims and anticipated outcomes, as well as consulted documents. Article on line:...

29 May 2018: paper by Élodie Oriol on “Learning music in Rome in the 18th century : Local offers, social links and how information about training circulated”

On the 29th of May, Élodie Oriol will participate in a conference entitled, « Training and creation : Places, community, networks, and familial transmission »,  organized by the Institut de Recherches Historiques du Septentrion (IRHiS) at the Université de...

PerformArt will be meeting at The European Research Music Conference, Universitat Pompeu Fabra in Barcelona, from the 11th to the 13th of June !

This event, within Vision2020: The Horizon Network and the ERC=Science2 project, will bring together a substantial number of projects that are funded by the European Research Council with music as their main focus. On the 13th of June, five members will present...

ProjectCerveteri, Palazzo Ruspoli © Franco Bruni

Rome, centre of the Christian world and capital of the Papal States, strewn with churches and religious institutions, was also, in the 17th and 18th centuries, the scene of intense conflicts and rivalries between some twenty leading aristocratic families, highly adept at organising musical, theatrical and choreographic performances to display their political sympathies. The artistic life that animated the palaces and country villas of this elite has been far less studied than that of the papal court, the grand theatres or the principal churches of Rome.

The PerformArt project aims to enrich our understanding of the history of performing arts among the Roman nobility between 1644 and 1740 by exploiting the abundant documentation contained in the archives of eleven leading aristocratic families. For the first time, PerformArt will bring together specialised archivists and historians, all expert in different aspects of this micro-society, in a systematic collaboration between the history of the performing arts, choreographic studies, and art, music, social, and economic history.

This collaboration will unearth primary sources in order to explain the social and artistic practices of Roman families, the motivations and conditions of patronage, the concrete structuring of artistic output as well the status of artists and their degree of dependence on their protectors. All this will be made possible through a relational database.

Consequently, we shall be able to clarify the extent of the political impact of the involvement of these families in the artistic life of Rome, both locally and on an international scale.

Research TeamBracciano, castello Orsini-Odescalchi © Franco Bruni

In order to achieve the objectives the project has set out it is necessary to count on a motivated, prepared and reliable team. Twenty-three researchers and archivists are devoting themselves to the study of family archives, contributing to collective research through their individual expertise.

In addition, the research activity is supported by a team of technical and administrative staff.

ProgrammeFrascati, Villa Aldobrandini © Franco Bruni

The project will last for five years (2016-2021). Discover our regularly updated calendar of study events, as well as the venues where we carry out our research.

ResourcesBagnaia, Villa Lante © Franco Bruni

For further information: A comprehensive bibliography, which will be updated through the contributions of our team, and links to the websites of our partner institutions – institutes, research centres, archives…

European Commission
European Research Council
Ecole Française de Rome
Centre d'études supérieurs de la renaissance
Universite Francois Rabelais
Ministère de la culture