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Four Hundred Years of Opera

The Beginnings: Florence

A Few Names

Voices from the Opera

dijous, 18 de gener de 2007
This year is the 400th anniversary of the first performance of 'Orfeo' by the Italian composer Claudio Monteverdi. 'Orfeo' is considered the first grand opera and the oldest opera still being performed today.

To mark the occasion, Europe will celebrate the European Opera Days to be held from 16 to 18 February. The event is set to make a big impact as it will involve opera houses from all over Europe opening their doors and running a wide range of activities aimed at rediscovering opera as a genre, a symbol of European culture.

'Orfeo' was first performed in 1607 during carnival celebrations in the Lombardian city of Mantua. The plot: the mythical Greek figure of Orfeo, with his exceptional musical gifts, is able to descend into hell with the intention of rescuing his beloved wife Eurydice. In the end, however, his efforts come to nothing.

With 'Orfeo', Monteverdi consolidated the new musical genre which had begun to appear during the last quarter of the 16th century in the city of Florence, then the Renaissance capital.

The Beginnings: Florence

+ Claudio Monteverdi consolidated the new musical genre.
At that time in Florence a number of poets, musicians and humanists were getting together in a group known as the Camerata Fiorentina. Its members were under the impression that in Ancient Greece, theatre only involved singing, with no spoken words, and that Greek theatre was a combination of poetry, music and dance. The group wanted to revive this tradition. In 1597, a musician called Jacopo Peri composed 'Dafne', considered to be the first-ever opera. The work was lost but three years later, in 1600, he wrote 'Eurydice', the world's oldest-surviving opera.

A Few Names

+ Portrait of Giuseppe Verdi.
The new musical genre was given its definitive boost by Claudio Monteverdi and it soon spread at first throughout Italy (Rome and Venice, etc.), followed by the rest of Europe. Since then, opera has attracted the most illustrious figures from the world of classical music. Here are a few of them, in chronological order: Lully, Purcell, Handel, Gluck, Mozart, Rossini, Donizetti, Wagner, Verdi, Tchaikovsky, Puccini, Richard Strauss, and Britten.

Voices from the Opera

+ Catalan soprano Victòria dels Àngels (1923-2005).
Opera is a musical drama (where the music is played by an orchestra) that is sung and which involves different voices. Women's voices are classified, from higher to lower, as soprano, mezzo-soprano and contralto. Men's voices range from the tenor down to the base with the baritone coming in between. Leading operatic roles are usually played by tenors and sopranos.


  • European Opera Days
    Commemoració del quatre-centè aniversari de la representació de 'Orfeu', que es farà a tot Europa els dies 16-18 de febrer.
  • Òpera i grans veus
    Col·lecció de discs compactes de la Biblioteca de l'Escola Politècnica Superior de Vilanova i la Geltrú. Semblança d'autors i fitxa de peces operístiques.
  • Materials didàctics
    Del Liceu. Història de l'òpera i activitats adreçades a l'alumnat.
  • 400 Years in 5 Minutes
    Repàs de quatre segles d'òpera. A càrrec de l'Òpera de Seattle (Washington, EUA).
  • 'Òperes explicades a nens'. Jordi Sierra Fabra
    Deu contes basats en sengles peces operístiques. Segona part de 'El meu primer llibre d'òpera'. Editorial Empúries, 2006.
  • Associació Wagneriana de Barcelona
    Instituïda el 1901 per a estudiar, difondre i promoure l'obra del compositor alemany Richard Wagner.
  • Música Clásica. De la A a la Z
    Nota biogràfica i passatges musicals d'uns tres-cents compositors.



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Com apuntar-s'hi


El mite d'Orfeu i Eurídice, argument de la primera gran òpera.
Semblança de l'autor, Claudio Monteverdi.
Tres preguntes sobre l'òpera.
Aplec de peces operístiques.
I també...
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