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COMPOSERS

Claudio Monteverdi

Claudio Monteverdi

Carlo Monteverdi's life

Claudio Monteverdi was born in 1567 and was an Italian composer, violinist and singer. His work marked the transition from Renaissance to Baroque music. In fact, he was one of the most significant composer that brought about the change in style. In childhood, he studied with Marc Antonio Ingegneri, who was maestro di cappella at the cathedral in Cremona. Monteverdi produced his first music for publication, some motets and sacred madrigals, in 1582-1583, at quite an early age and in 1587 he produced his first book of secular madrigals.
In 1590 he began working at the court in Mantua as a vocalist and viol player, and by 1602 he had become conductor. Until his forties, he mainly worked on madrigals, composing nine books. In 1607 he composed his first opera, Orfeo, marked by its dramatic power and lively orchestration andit was a great success. With this opera, Monteverdi had created an entirely new style of music, the dramma per musica (musical drama) as it was called. In 1613 Monteverdi was appointed as conductor at San Marco in Venice, where he soon revived the choir, which had withered under his predecessor. During the last years of his life, Monteverdi became severely ill, but it did not keep him from composing his two last masterpieces, both operasIl ritorno d'Ulisse in patria (1641), and the historic opera L'incoronazione di Poppea (1642). Monteverdi died in Venice in 1643.

Monteverdi's Operas

Orfeo (1607), Il ritorno d'Ulisse in patria (1639), L'incoronazione di Poppea (1642), L'Arianna, conosciuta come Lamento di Arianna(1608).

Curiosities

Monteverdi's Il ritorno di Ulisse in Patria

Il ritorno di Ulisse in patria by Claudio Monteverdi first saw the light at Teatro San Cassiano of Venice in February 1641, and it is based on the libretto by Giacomo Badoaro who was in turn inspired by the Odyssey. As usual, the moments of lyricism have inspired Monteverdi's most beautiful pages, so it is for the Lamento of Penelope. A great importance has also Monteverdi's popular recitative. Il Ritorno marks a great distance from the previous opera, L'Orfeo. It is a complex work, full of secondary plots, announcing, in a way, the future of serious opera, with a real Baroque taste, including the singing virtuosos. Il ritorno di Ulisse in Patria is an actual drama in music, with its elaborated structure aiming to deliver a theatrical effect, with large musical means. The music is not pure and abstract with the only objective of being appreciated but has a dramaturgic role. Each character (and this is the modernity of Monteverdi's musical sheet) is “dressed” with what it sings and interprets, expressing its personality independently.

Monteverdi's Incoronazione di Poppea

L'incoronazione di Poppea, last opera composed by a by then aged Monteverdi, went on stage at Teatro San Giovanni e Paolo of Venice during the carnival, in 1643. In this opera, the idea of man as conceived during the Renaissance period, it's explained through an historical subject (it is the first time such a topic is privileged over the usual mythological one), which was taken by the librettist Gian Francesco Busenello from Tacitus' work. With great realism, this piece is concentrated on Poppea's lustful passion, driven by her careless ambition, and on Imperator Nerone's political weakness. Seneca's superior wiseness and ethical strictness, Ottone, a traditional lover, and Ottavia, the betrayed queen, only make the themes of the opera stand out even more: political power and love passion.
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