Where Opera Originated From

By | August 8, 2019

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Opera House. Source: (pinterest.com)

Operas were put on by royalty as a way of showing off how wealthy they were. They used this form of entertainment to impress dignitaries especially when a celebration was in order such as a wedding. Themes were usually taken from Greek and Roman mythology and then music and dancing along with excessive costumes would be added to make it complete.

There were two types of opera, the formal dignified opera (opera seria) and comedies (opera buffa).

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Orfeo Opera. Source: (youtube.com)

Some considered “Dafne” (1597) to be the very first opera, which was composed by Jacopo Peri, while others considered “Orfeo,” which was performed in 1607, composed by Monteverdi to be the first opera. The opera “Orfeo” came from a Greek myth about a musician named Orpheus who went to Hell to get his dead wife but then while there, through his music, subdues the demons. Both of these were performed in Italy.

“The Siege of Rhodes” was the first English opera and was performed in 1656 at the Rutland House and was also the first production that included the scenery. Legend has it that Davenant was William Shakespeare’s illegitimate son. Davenant and Thomas Killigrew gained a monopoly on the drama in London which they held until the 19th century. Davenant presented Shakespeare’s plays when he opened the Duke’s Theatre.