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Fabritio Caroso (1527-1535-after 1605); ITA

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Fabritio Caroso was the author of two treatises—Il ballarino and Nobiltà di dame—which are considered among the most important works on dance from the sixteenth century. Not much is known about Caroso's early years, but it seems likely he was born in Sermoneta, Italy, a village southeast of Rome. His family was of working-class means, but apparently provided young Fabritio with a good education. By his late twenties, Caroso had become a master of dance and was in the service of the Duchess of Sermoneta, Felice Maria Orsina Caetana. Because of the familial connections of the Duchess, Caroso worked in Rome and gained additional patrons from her relatives in the Orsini family.

Caroso's first dance treatise was published in 1581 and contains descriptions of dance steps—many of the author's own devising—and music for the dances in lute tablature. Eighteen of the dances carry dedications to Orsini family members. But Caroso had also garnered the support of some members of the powerful Medici family, as is evidenced by the fact the 1581 treatise was dedicated to the Grand Duchess of Toscana, Bianca Capello de Medici. Moreover, some of the dances are also dedicated to other Medici family members. The ever-resourceful Caroso had connections, as well, with other influential Roman families, like the Aldobrandini and Farnese families.

While Caroso apparently spent most of his time in the vicinity of Rome, he did visit Venice twice, each time for publication of his dance treatises, the first trip coming probably around 1580 and the second in the late 1590s. The second treatise, published in 1600 and dedicated to the Duke and Duchess of Parma, was really an updating of the first, though it contained both new dances and different choreography for those that were reprinted. Altogether the two volumes contain 131 dances, with the second the more popular of the two books, since it was published again, in 1630, long after Caroso's death. Caroso died after 1605, possibly in Rome.

© Robert Cummings, All Music Guide
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