Personalities | Francesca Caccini | Early & Middle Baroque | Opera
1587–c. 1637, Italian
Francesca Caccini was the daughter of composer and singer Giulio Caccini (1551–1618). She sang at lavish musical entertainments staged in Florence and also performed in Paris with her mother and sister in 1604–05. Francesca, known as La Cecchina (‘The Little Fairy’), was extremely versatile: she was not only a singer, but a talented performer on the harpsichord, guitar and lute, and a composer in her own right. Her first compositions were festive ballets, such as Il ballo delle zigane (‘The Ballet of the Gypsies’, 1615). She then graduated to monody in her Primo libro della musiche (‘First Book of Music’, 1618). From there, Caccini collaborated with Marco di Gagliano on the sacred work Il martirio di Sant’Agata (‘The Martyrdom of Saint Agatha’, 1622) and wrote the opera La liberazione di Ruggiero dall’isola d’Alcina (‘Ruggiero’s Liberation from Alcina’s Island’, 1625). This was the first opera known to be composed by a woman.
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