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Florentine Beginnings Although musical drama such as The Play of Daniel 12th cent had previously existed it was in the year 1600 that opera came into being It began in Florence Italy fostered by the camerata society a group of scholars philosophers and amateur musicians that included the librettist Ottavio Rinuccini 1562-1621 and the composers Vincenzo Galilei Emilio del Cavaliere c1550-1602 Jacopo Peri and Giulio Caccini It was their aim to promote the principle of monodic musical declamation ie a single melodic line with modest accompaniment inspired by the example of ancient Greek drama accordingly the earliest operas took their plots from mythology the legend of Orpheus and Eurydice being one of the most popular Because the story hinges on the expressive power of music and solo song the early composers referred to their work as dramma per musica drama through music and operas of the 17th and 18th cent used myth at first and plots about historical figures later It had both lofty and comic strains which were in time separated into distinct genres the opera seria serious opera and the opera buffa comic opera Although fragments of Jacopo Peris Dafne c1597 exist the same composers Euridice 1600 set to verse by Ottavio Rinuccini is generally considered the first opera The Baroque in Rome and Venice Development of earlier baroque opera occurred at Rome and Venice The work that established Roman opera Sant Alessio by Stefano Landi c1590-c1639 appeared in 1632 it had a libretto by Giulio Rospigliosi later Pope Clement IX Landi modified the strict declamatory style of the Florentines with formal devices the recitative and aria became clearly differentiated and more prominent use was made of choruses and instrumental form Also the libretto included comic scenes which had no part in earlier operas However it was not until the appearance of Claudio Monteverdi in Venice that baroque opera reached its peak and the art form that
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