Cristoforo Ivanovich

Venetian historian and librettist of Serb origin

Cristoforo Ivanovich (1628-1689; Italian: Cristoforo Giovannovi; Montenegrin: "Krsto Ivanovic") was a montenegrin "Marinist" poet from the Albania veneta of the Republic of Venice. He is the author of the first "History of Theater". He wrote in Italian -as in all his works- a critical chronology of opera drama done in Venice.[1]

Cristoforo Ivanovich, illustration in his book Minerva al tavolino
Funerary monument of Cristoforo Ivanovich


Ivanovich was born in Budua (now Montenegro) in 1628. He died in Venice in 1688. He was from an old Dalmatian family with roots in the original Dalmatian neolatin people of southern Illyria.

From the time he was young, he showed love for poetry. He started composing when he was a teenager. At age 25 he moved to Italy, where he built a successful career as a scientist, wrote poetry, and became a highly esteemed writer of opera libretti. He then went to Verona in 1655, where he was a member of the "Accademia Filarmonica" and the "Accademia dei Temperati".

In 1657, he moved to Venice. He stayed there until his death in 1688. From 1663 he wrote celebrative writings, linked to the operatic market, that were presented in the theaters of Venice, Vienna and Piacenza. In his last years he wrote his most known work: Le memorie teatrali di Venezia.[2]


His main opera works, all in Italian, were the opera librettos:

  • L'amor guerriero
  • La Circe
  • Coriolano
  • La costanza trionfante
  • Lisimaco
  • L'africano trionfo di Pompeo
  • La felicità regnante
  • the internationally famous Minerva al tavolino[3]

In the first part of his career, which was dedicated mainly to celebrative works, Cristoforo Ivanovich, born in Budva in 1628, wrote "L'amor guerriero" (1663). This was set by Ziani as La Circe (1663), and performed for the birthday of Leopold I of Hapsburg. In 1675 he rearranged "L'amor guerriero" and dedicated it to Francesco II of Este, relation of Ranuccio II Farnese, for whom he had composed "Il Coriolano" (1669). The second phase of his career was more linked to the operatic market of the city. He adapted Moniglia's "Ipermestra", which he called "La costanza trionfante" (1673), for the Venetian public, and also rearranged his own "Circe" (1679), performed at the Sant'Angelo where Francesco Santurini was impresario. He also wrote "Lisimaco" (1673) for Pagliardi who addressed a famous letter to him on the "varietà de' metri - variety of metres", directed at the structure of the stanzas rather than the verse, since six-syllable and above all eight-syllable lines prevailed, for which the composer used recurring rhythmic models. The score bearing this name and generally attributed to Pagliardi, preserved at the Estense in Modena, recalls Pasquini's homonymous but different "Lisimaco". In the third phase of his career Ivanovich wrote encomiastic cantatas and the prosimetric "Minerva al tavolino" (1681) which contains "Theatrical memories", a chronology of performances which lays claim to the supremacy of Venice. It is full of errors but contains valuable information on entertainment in the city and the workings of the theatre. [4]

In 1681 he wrote what is considered by critics his most famous work, Le memorie teatrali di Venezia, where he wanted to preserve the chronological history of theater and drama in Venice.[5]


  1. Ivanovich's History and Criticism p.399
  2. Biography (in French)
  3. Video about Krsto Ivanovic (in Montenegrin)
  4. Anna Laura Bellina. "Brevità, frequenza e varietà: Cristoforo Ivanovich librettista e storico dell'opera veneziana"
  5. Le memorie teatrali di Venezia


  • Cavallini, I. Questioni di poetica del melodramma del Seicento nelle lettere di Cristoforo Ivanovich, in "Giovanni Legrenzi e la Cappella ducale di San Marco", p. 185-99 (Venezia, 1990)
  • Milosevic, M. Il contributo di Cristoforo Ivanovich nell’evoluzione del melodramma seicentesco, in "Il libro nel bacino adriatico (secc. XVI-XVIII)", p. 111-24 (Venezia, 1989)
  • Rosand, Hellen. Opera in Seventeenth-Century Venice: The Creation of a Genre. Centennial Books. Publisher University of California Press, 2007 ISBN 0520254260
  • Velimirovic, M. Cristoforo Ivanovich from Budva: the First Historian of the Venetian Opera (1967)
  • Walker, T. Gli errori di “Minerva al tavolino”: osservazioni sulla cronologia delle prime opere veneziane, in "Venezia e il melodramma nel Seicento", p. 7-20 (Venezia, 1972)

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