Early Italian Opera

Compared with the amount of music and poetry that have been preserved surrounding the birth of opera in Florence, there is a relative dearth of works from its very early childhood. Like her sister intermedii and other grand spectacles, opera in her youth remained a child of the very wealthy and influential environment into which she was born.

More operas like Euridice Teatro Comunale, Ferrara
Teatro Comunale, Ferrara
(Wikimedia Commons)
were written and performed in Florence, including Adone in 1611, Il Medoro in 1616, and La sposalizio di Medoro e Angelica in 1619, written by Jacopo Peri with, in the case of the last two, the collaboration of Marco da Gagliano. Giulio Caccini’s daughter Francesca wrote Il matrimonio di Santa Agata in 1622 and La liberazione di Ruggiero dall’isola d’Alcina in 1625, the former in collaboration with Gagliano. These are just a few of the productions mounted early in the century, most of which unfortunately are now lost.

Marco da Gagliano’s first opera was based on an expanded version of Rinuccini’s Dafne — the same one on which Peri and Corsi based their 1597 opus — and performed in Mantua the same year as was Teatro Comunale, Florence
Teatro Comunale, Florence
(Wikimedia Commons)
Orfeo. But a second focus of opera appeared in Rome, where an admixture of religious and classical themes were often combined for the purposes of moral tutelage. Agostino Agazzari’s Eumelio (1606), Filippo Vitali’s L’Artusa (1620), and Mazzochi’s La catena d’Adone (1626) are examples.

Survival of many of these works was rare, and recordings or performances in our own day can be just as infrequent, which is a pity: there is some comfort to be had in pursuing other avenues where drama and music came together, such as Monteverdi’s later madrigals.

Banchieri & Madrigal Comedy ⇒

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