By F. W. Sternfeld
Written by a leading musicologist, The Birth of Opera looks at the predecessors and early examples of opera from Poliziano's Orfeo (c. 1480) to Monteverdi's Arianna (1608). It pays considerable attention to the role played by such poets as Poliziano, Tasso, Guarini, Rinuccini, and Chiabrera and the conventions that gradually developed for shaping the dramatic plot with regard to operatic structure, in particular the problem of the finale. Sternfeld focuses on the early operas of Peri and Monteverdi and their predecessors, the intermedi, but frequent references to later operas by Cavalli, Gluck, Mozart, Verdi, and Stravinsky relate the origins of the genre to its essence through the centuries. In particular, he explores the enduring fascination with the Orpheus myth, from ancient Greece to Haydn and Stravinsky, in greater detail than in most histories of early opera. His fascinating and accessible book will be essential reading to a wide range of students, scholars, and opera buffs.