Personalities | Ottavio Rinuccini | Early & Middle Baroque | Opera

1562–1621, Italian

Ottavio Rinuccini, a member of the Bardi Camerata, wrote his first libretti for sophisticated Florentine entertainments. In 1598, Rinuccini produced the first opera libretto, Peri’s Dafne (1598). A musical setting of Dafne composed by Heinrich Schütz in 1627 may have been the first German opera. Rinuccini’s libretto Euridice was set to music by both Peri (1600) and Caccini (1602) and in 1608, Rinuccini wrote his most famous text, for Monteverdi’s Arianna. However, although Monteverdi considered him to be the best librettist of his time, he turned down Rinuccini’s next text, Narciso ed Ecco (‘Narcissus and Echo’), because of its unhappy ending. The sources for Rinuccini’s libretti were the Roman poet Ovid and the lyrical pastoral legend. His verse, which was well suited to the natural delivery of words, set the style for many librettists after him.

Introduction | Early & Middle Baroque | Opera
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