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

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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