Beth L. Glixon and Jonathan E. Glixon

in Renaissance and Reformation

ISBN: 9780195399301
Published online December 2012 | | DOI:

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  • Modern History (1700 to 1945)
  • Medieval and Renaissance Philosophy


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The early decades of the 17th century saw a number of musical innovations, of which opera—that is, a play set entirely to music—was perhaps the most significant. Although often treated in histories of music as one of the first manifestations of the baroque period, early opera emerged directly from late Renaissance humanist circles in Rome and Florence. At first the entertainment of the privileged in the courts of Florence and Mantua, and then a spectacle mounted by the pope’s family in Rome, opera would soon flourish in Venice following the opening of the first public theater there in 1637. Within a few years, as many as five theaters had opened, and carnival season in Venice became a highlight for Venetians and foreigners alike. Opera eventually spread from Venice throughout Italy and to German-speaking lands, France, England, and, to some extent, also to Spain and the New World. At its most basic level, 17th-century opera means Claudio Monteverdi, Jean-Baptiste Lully, and Henry Purcell. As is the case with so much scholarship associated with 17th-century music, this bibliography draws much of its inspiration from the beginnings of opera and Monteverdi, but it moves beyond “il divino Claudio” to highlight a wide range of books, articles, and scores that inform nearly the entire 17th century. The articles and books represent a wide range of approaches, from archival to gender centered. It should be noted that while there were some significant changes to opera around the year 1700, the chronological end point of this bibliography, the development of the genre was essentially continuous. The later history of opera is covered in a separate Oxford Bibliographies: Renaissance and Reformation article on Music.

Article.  10281 words. 

Subjects: Modern History (1700 to 1945) ; Medieval and Renaissance Philosophy

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