Salvatore Viganò

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Salvatore Viganò
The dancer Viganò (Johann Gottfried Schadow, 1797)
The Viganò dancers (Schadow, 1797)
Maria and Salvatore Viganò in the opera Il trionfo d'Arianna by Vincenzo Righini (Berlin, January 1796).

Salvatore Viganò (born March 25, 1769 in Naples , † August 10, 1821 in Milan ) was an Italian choreographer , composer and dancer .


He inherited his vocation from his father Onorato Viganò . His mother was the ballerina Maria Boccherini . He studied composition under Luigi Boccherini , his uncle, and dance under Jean Dauberval . He made his debut as a dancer in Rome in 1783 in a female role, since dancers were not allowed to perform in Rome at the time. He performed in Rome (1786), Venice (1788), and Madrid (1789), the latter on the occasion of the coronation of Charles IV. In Spain he met Jean Dauberval and went with him to Bordeaux and London (1791). In 1789 he married the dancer Maria Medina . The marriage lasted ten years. His first ballet choreography was Raoul Signor de Crequi in Venice in 1791 , for which he composed the music himself.

On May 13, 1793, he and his wife appeared for the first time in Vienna and on June 25, his Raoul was performed at the Kärntnertortheater . The couple's appearances caused a sensation, among other things, because Maria Viganò appeared as the first dancer in a flesh-colored leotard under a transparent dress. Heinrich von Collin writes about the polarization of Viennese society at the time:

“A kind of acting that was completely new to him [Collin] attracted his attention to a particular degree. Under the reign of Leopold II , the ballets, once a popular play by Noverre in Vienna, were brought back to the stage. The general interest immediately turned again; But this was increased to a high degree when, in addition to the ballet master Muzarelli , a second ballet master, Mr. Salvatore Vigano, gave performances, whose wife developed an art that had never been punished before the eyes of the astonished audience. The most important affair of the state is perhaps not capable of producing a more violent division of mind than the quarrel over the preference of the two ballet masters at that time produced. The friends of the theater all divided into two parties, which, because of the differences in their convictions, viewed each other with hatred and contempt. The supporters of Muzarelli, as the weaker part, seemed to be on the side of that ballet master mainly because he had previously owned the stage as Vigano, and was, as it were, offended in his rights by the newcomer, and from the previous general approval saw repressed, were the bitterest, and even looked for foreign means to the cause to assert themselves against the opponents; just as they tried to decry Madame Vigano's game, which was aimed entirely at true art, as immoral, which, of course, did not want to succeed as they wanted. The admirers of the new ballet master, on the contrary, called the defenders of the older man with quite open contempt ignoramuses, who would never have had the slightest suspicion of the idea of ​​beauty. But they were not both preoccupied with making them feel this opinion, but rather with raising the object of their veneration to the sky with boisterous praise, and the theaters in Vienna actually heard such a stormy clamor of applause and, as it were, the thundering roar of the cheering crowd never again, as in the ballets of that time. The ballet master’s enemies had to fall silent in the theater before the deafening clang of applause that echoed from the ground floor, boxes and galleries. This rare victory which the new ballet master won over the older one, he owed to the return of his art from the exaggerated, meaningless artificiality of the older Italian ballet to the simple forms of nature. To be sure, it must have been strange to suddenly see a genre of drama in which one has hitherto been used to seeing nothing but jumps and dislocations of the limbs, arduous positions, often intertwined dances that leave no impression of unity, suddenly action, depth of feeling and To see the pure beauty of the external representation, which developed so splendidly in the earlier ballets of Mr. Salvatore Vigano and opened up a new realm of beauty that was hitherto unknown. And if it is undoubtedly true that especially the natural, cheerful, informal dance of Madame Vigano and her expressive and charming facial expressions particularly attracted general applause, the content of the ballets themselves was none the less, which differed from the later inventions by the same master very beneficially differentiated and his then very classy, ​​dignified male dance also excellently suited to fill the minds with admiration and respect for the master and his creations. "

- Heinrich von Collin

The Viganòs stayed in Vienna until 1795, when they performed in Prague, Dresden, Berlin, Hamburg and Venice. In 1799 he returned to Vienna, meanwhile separated from his wife, and worked there until 1803.

"The Creatures of Prometheus" (van Beethoven / Viganò)

During this second period in Vienna he designed the ballet The Creatures of Prometheus , for which Ludwig van Beethoven composed the music. The ballet, dedicated to Empress Maria Theresa of Naples and Sicily , was premiered on March 28, 1801 at the Court Theater and ran 29 times until 1802. Prometheus was sung by the castrato Giovanni Cesari , the creatures were danced by Viganò and Maria Casentini , the prima donna of the ballet corps, where Collin notes that the Casentini was excellent but could not erase the memory of Maria Viganò.

Since Gli strelizzi 1809 he was known for seamlessly inserting pantomime into his ballets (he called this coreodramma ). This shows the influence of Jean-Georges Noverre , Dauberval's teacher, who introduced a change from pantomime to dance. He was also interested in painting, which was reflected in elaborate costumes and arrangements. His subjects were historical and mythological; he also often took up Shakespeare's subjects .

Probably in 1811 he became the ballet director of La Scala in Milan .


  • Raoul Signor de Crequi (Venice 1791)
  • The Daughter of the Air, or: The Elevation of the Semiramis (Vienna 1793)
  • Richard the Lionheart, King of England (music: Joseph Weigl , Vienna 1795)
  • The Violet Found (Vienna 1795)
  • Clothilde, Duchess of Salerno (after Gozzi, Vienna 1799)
  • The creatures of Prometheus (music: Beethoven , Vienna 1801)
  • I giuochi istmici (music: Joseph Weigl, Vienna 1803)
  • Cajo Marzio Coriolano (music: Joseph Weigl, Milan 1804)
  • Gli Strelizzi (Venice 1809)
  • Prometeo (music: Beethoven, Milan 1813)
  • Gli Ussiti sotto a Naumburgo (Milan 1814)
  • Numa Pompilio (Milan 1815)
  • Mirra; o sia, La Vendetta di Venere (Milan 1817)
  • Psammi, re d'Egitto (Milan 1817)
  • Otello (Milan 1818)
  • La vestale (Milan 1818)
  • I titani (music: Johann Kaspar Aiblinger , Milan 1819)
  • Alessandro nell'Indie (music: Johann Kaspar Aiblinger, Milan 1820)
  • Giovanna d'Arco (music: Johann Kaspar Aiblinger, Milan 1820)
  • Didone (music: Johann Kaspar Aiblinger, Milan 1821).


  • Carlo Ritorni: Commentarii della vita e delle opere coredrammatiche di Salvatore di Viganò. Milan 1838.
  • Constantin von Wurzbach : Viganò, Salvatore . In: Biographisches Lexikon des Kaiserthums Oesterreich . 50th part. Kaiserlich-Königliche Hof- und Staatsdruckerei, Vienna 1884, pp. 287–289 ( digitized version ).
  • Alexander Wheelock Thayer: Ludwig van Beethoven's life. Volume 2, Leipzig 1910, p. 215 ff.
  • Egon Voss : Difficulties in dealing with the ballet “The Creatures of Prometheus” by Salvatore Viganó and Ludwig van Beethoven. In: Archives for Musicology . Volume 53, 1996, pp. 21-40.
  • Lorenzo Bianconi, Giorgio Pestelli: Opera on Stage (The History of Italian Opera, Part II: Systems). University Of Chicago Press, 2002.
  • Carol Lee: Ballet in western culture: a history of its origins and evolution. Routledge, New York 2002, p. 115 f.

Web links

Commons : Salvatore Viganò  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Heinrich von Collin Werke, Vol. 6, p. 305f, quoted in: Alexander Wheelock Thayer: Ludwig van Beethovens Leben. Vol. 2, Leipzig 1910, pp. 217f
  2. Collin Werke Vol. 6, p. 309