Personalities | Francesco Rasi | Early & Middle Baroque | Opera

1574–1620, Italian

Composer and tenor Francesco Rasi took part in the first performances of Peri’s Euridice and Caccini’s Rapimento di Cefalo in Florence in 1600. By then he was already an experienced and much-admired performer, after 10 years in the service of aristocratic patrons, including Duke Fernando I of Tuscany before 1594, and, after 1598 the Gonzaga family, who ruled Mantua between 1328 and 1708 and were important patrons of music. Rasi was still in Mantua in 1607, when he is believed to have created the title role in Monteverdi’s Orfeo. He also took part in the first version of Dafne composed by Marco di Gagliano (1582–1643), performed in Mantua in 1608. In 1617, Rasi doubled as composer and librettist for Cibele ed Ati, an opera written to celebrate the marriage of Ferdinando Gonzaga. The music has been lost, but Rasi’s text has survived.

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