Who invented Opera

Opera is a form of stage musical, quite different from typical Broadway musicals, and is often considered more cultural because it incorporates classical music and period costumes. Despite the use of classical orchestras, and a distinctive style of singing, opera actually describes a type of stage drama where singing is the main method of delivering lines instead of the more usual method of speaking a part.

The renaissance era in Europe, especially in Italy, was when opera was first developed. Renaissance society was rediscovering many of the artistic highs of ancient Greek and Roman literature, poetry, art, sculpture, even philosophical thought, most of which had been forgotten for over a thousand years as Europe experienced the dark ages and then settled into the medieval ages.

opera masks Who invented Opera

Florence, one of Italy’s leading centers of enlightenment, was the setting for regular meetings of the Florentine Camerata under the leadership of Count Giovanni de’Bardi during the second half of the 1500s, who were determined to revive classical Greek drama and music. These leading men of Florence would interpret and read the classics, and came to the conclusion that Greek drama was probably sung instead of spoken.

Girolamo Mei, a music historian of the era considered that some of the parts of Greek drama needed to be sung if they were to be heard over the sound of the instruments he believed would have been played in he background. The ancient Greeks may have sung small parts of their dramas, but modern historians now agree most Greek drama was spoken. In any event, Mei and the Florentine Camerata developed a new style of drama with parts being sung to accompaniment by a chamber orchestra.

Lei rarely attended the meetings of the Camerata, but wrote profuse notes to Vincenzo Galilei, a member of the Camerata and also a celebrated lutist in Florence. Galilei first put classical Greek poetry to music in a style known as the recitative. Several other members of the Camerata were also musically minded so Galilei shouldn’t be considered the only person of the Camerata to have created the new style.

sydney opera house Who invented Opera

The first drama to music that modern opera enthusiasts and historians consider to be opera as we know it today was composed by Jacopo Peri in 1597 entitled Daphne. Peri’s first opera hasn’t survived thru the ages but his second opera Euridice, first performed in 1600 has, Peri was the first composer to create a completely new drama set to music in the new opera style, and for this is credited with the invention of opera.

Sadly, Peri was quickly eclipsed by a younger generation, of whom Claudio Monteverdi was considered the composer to be watched and emulated, and many people who don’t know of Peri often incorrectly describe Monteverdi as the inventor of opera. In fact his style was so different from Peri, and still very much appreciated even in the 21st century, that perhaps the honor does belong to him, whereas Peri’s music is considered quite rough, and lacking finesse compared to his successors.

Learn about the complete history of opera.

About the Author:

Peter is the founder of WhoGuides - The History Website. He's always happy to share his passion for history. Use the contact form if you want to get in touch with him.

Comments are closed.