Personalities | Giulio Caccini | Early & Middle Baroque | Opera
At age 13, Giulio Caccini arrived at the court of the de’ Medici family in Florence and very quickly proved himself immensely gifted in several musical skills – as singer, composer, teacher, lutenist and harpist. In 1598, Caccini helped Peri compose Dafne. In 1600, he became superintendent of musicians and actors at the ducal court of Tuscany. In the same year, Caccini wrote his first opera, Il rapimento di Cefalo (‘The Kidnapping of Cefalo’) and his second, Euridice, with libretto by Ottavio Rinuccini. This Euridice was first performed in 1602. There was some dispute with Peri, who also used Rinuccini’s text and acknowledged that his score included some of Caccini’s music: this was not good enough for Caccini, who claimed that he, and not Peri, had ‘invented’ the operatic style. However, Caccini’s greatest contribution to music and opera did not lie with his compositions but with his book Le nuove musiche (‘The New Music’), published in 1602. Here, Caccini made a powerful case for the radical changes of style and mood that revolutionized music in the Baroque period and prompted the birth of opera.
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