Personalities | Jacopo Peri | Early & Middle Baroque | Opera

1561–1633, Italian

Like his rival and fellow Roman Giulio Caccini, Jacopo Peri possessed several musical talents. He was a composer, singer and harpist. In 1588, also like Caccini, Peri joined the Medici court in Florence. At age 27, he was, it seems, an attractive addition to one of the most glittering courts in Europe, where his singing was greatly admired and his long blond tresses earned him the nickname Il Zazzerino (‘little shock of hair’). Peri sang in the spectacular entertainments at the Medici court, composing some music for the performances, and he also became drawn to the Camerata and their promotion of the stile rappresentativo, the radical ‘representative style’ in music. In 1598, Peri became the first to write a complete work, Dafne, in the new style. Peri also took a major part in his own composition, as the ancient Greek god Apollo. Euridice followed in 1600, with Peri this time taking the important role of Orpheus, Euridice’s bereaved husband. The opera was written to celebrate the marriage of King Henri IV of France to Maria de’ Medici. Published in 1601, Euridice is the earliest opera for which the complete score survives.

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