The monastery of Santa Chiara was one of the most prestigious female monasteries in Naples. The magnificence and wealth nuns’s lifestyle was made evident by lavish celebrations, parties, and musical performances. The designation of the monastery of Santa Chiara as a seat of State ceremonies, coronations, and royal tombs, made it an emanation of the royal power. Archival documentation relating to the monastery is incomplete; available information, however, testifies of an important musical tradition both in the public and private spheres. At the end of sixteenth century there is mention of musical performances and entertainments that did not conform to the regulation, notwithstanding the recurrent prohibitions in the early modern period for the use of figured chant, polyphony, dramas and instruments differeant from the organ. Therefore there was a constant and rich use of music in the main celebrations of the liturgical year. Marian feast days, the liturgies of Forty Hours, the Holy Week, and above all the festivities of Santa Chiara and of the Corpus Christi involved the collaboration with the musicians of the Royal Chapel. The music could also be simply a pleasant pastime. There are numerous references to theatrical representations, spiritual operettas during the Carnival, intended as recreations for the nuns. Comparative analysis of archival records from various Neapolitan archives allows us to reconstruct the musical activities of this institution and the contribution that the monastery provided to the city’s cultural and artistic life between the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries
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