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This Day in History - February 24

One of the first operas ever created, 'L'Orfeo,' premiered.
Video | February 24, 2017 | By Jonathan Shipley


On this day, in 1607, one of the first works recognized as opera, Claudio Monteverdi's L'Orfeo premiered. While Jacopo Peri's Dafne is generally recognized as the first opera (circa 1597), and the earliest surviving opera is Peri's Euridice (1600), Monteverdi's work is the earliest that is still regularly performed. 

With a libretto by Alessandro Striggio, the opera is based on the Greek legend of Orpheus. The story of Orpheus has been told time and again. A man who attempts to save his wife, Eurydice, from the underworld. It does not go well.

The work premiered at the Ducal Palace at Mantua in northern Italy. It was warmly received. Cherubino Ferrari, a court theologian and poet wrote that, "Both poet and musican have depicted the inclinations of the heart so skillfully that I could not have done it better...The music, observigng due propriety, serves the poetry so well that nothing more beautiful is to be heard anywhere."

From the opera:

Also from the work:

The opera in full: