The Prologue, from the score published in Florence in 1600
|Based on||Ovid's Metamorphoses|
|Premiere||6 October 1600
Palazzo Pitti, Florence
Euridice (also Erudice or Eurydice) is an opera by Jacopo Peri, with additional music by Giulio Caccini. It is the earliest surviving opera, Peri's earlier Dafne being lost. (Caccini wrote his own "Euridice" even as he supplied music to Peri's opera, published this version before Peri's was performed, in 1600, and got it staged two years later.) The libretto by Ottavio Rinuccini is based on books X and XI of Ovid's Metamorphoses which recount the story of the legendary musician Orpheus and his wife Euridice.
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Euridice was created for the marriage of King Henry IV of France and Maria de Medici. The composition is typically considered to be the second work of modern opera, and the first such musical drama to survive to the present day. (The first, Dafne, was written by the same authors in 1597.)
Since both the libretto and score were dedicated to the new Queen of France, Marie de' Medici, some scholars have recognized a possible parallel between Euridice and Orfeo and the Queen and King of France. While the comparison is readily made, some scholars argue that the traits of King Henry IV are different from Orfeo, especially with respect to Orfeo's most famous deed. Orfeo loved Euridice so much that he journeyed to Hell and back, quite literally, to unite once more with his beloved wife while King Henry IV wouldn't travel as far as Florence to retrieve Medici.
At the premiere, many of the other roles were filled by members of Caccini's entourage, including his daughter Francesca Caccini. Peri composed all of the music for the first production, but owing to the integral involvement of Caccini and his performers, some of Peri's music was finally replaced by that of Caccini. When Caccini discovered that Peri intended to publish the opera with the added Caccini pieces, he rushed to finish his own version of Euridice using the same libretto, and managed to have his published before Peri's. In his preface, Peri notes that all of the music was completed by the date of the first performance earning his efforts the designation Prima Euridice.
In creating the music for Euridice, Peri envisioned a vocal style that is half sung and half spoken. For less dramatic parts he created vocal lines close to the style of spoken language set over a sustained accompaniment. For impassioned scenes he explored stronger and more rapid melodies with steadily changing harmonies. Peri's critics have observed that within the score of Euridice, he created no musically remarkable examples of either. However, he did use ranges and widths of register, as well as frequency and power of cadences, to distinguish different characters and dramatic moods. The voice and accompaniment are carefully paced to emphasize the tension and release in the text. Rhythmic and melodic inflections in the vocal lines closely, almost scientifically, imitate dramatic speech. In addition, impassioned exclamations are set with unprepared dissonances and unexpected movements in the bass.
All qualitative judgments aside, even his greater detractors admit that with Euridice Peri managed to establish sound principles for operatic composition.The work establishes in opera the dual resource of aria and recitative, and it explores the use of solo, ensemble and choral singing.
|Aminta, a shepherd||tenor|
|Arcetro, a shepherd||contralto|
|Tirsi, a shepherd||tenor|
|Nymphs and shepherds, shades and deities of hell|
Peri's Euridice tells the story of the musician Orpheus and Euridice from Greek Mythology. According to myth, Orpheus was a great musician who journeyed to the underworld to plead with the gods to revive his wife Euridice after she had been fatally injured.
It opens with a simple melody by a singer representing the Tragic Muse, La Tragedia, and a short ritornello. Shepherds nearby and the Tragic Muse sing a conversation in recitatives and choruses, Daphne enters to notify everyone that Euridice has been fatally bitten by a serpent.
All of the nymphs and shepherds gather to celebrate the wedding of Orfeo and Euridice.
Orfeo is content after his wedding but is soon interrupted by Dafne. She brings the terrible news that Euridice has been bitten by a venomous snake and has died. Orfeo then vows to rescue her from the underworld.
Arcetro recounts that while Orfeo lay weeping, Venus, goddess of love, carries him off in her chariot.
This opens with Orpheus pleading with Venere, Plutone, Prosperina, Caronte, and Radamanto in the underworld for the return of his beloved wife Euridice. Nearly the entire scene is carried in recitative. When the act closes, Orpheus is back with Tirsi and the other shepherds.
Venus and Orfeo arrive at the gates of the underworld. Venus suggests that through his legendary voice he might persuade Pluto to return Euridice to life. Orfeo succeeds and is allowed to leave with his bride.
Orfeo and Euridice return from the underworld and rejoice.
|Prologue||Scene 1||Prologo – Io, che d'alti sospir vaga e di pianti||La Tragedia|
|Act 1||Scene 1|
|Ninfe, ch'i bei crin d'oro||Pastore del coro, Ninfa del coro|
|Vaghe ninfe amorose||Arcetro, Pastore del coro, Ninfa del coro|
|Donne, ch'a' miei diletti||Euridice, Ninfa del coro|
|Credi, ninfa gentile||Aminta, Pastore del coro|
|In mille guise e mille||Euridice, Coro|
|Al canto, al ballo, all'ombra, al prato adorno||Coro, Pastore del coro, Ninfa del coro, Altre Ninfe del coro|
|Antri, ch'a' miei lamenti||Orfeo|
|Sia pur lodato il ciel, lodato Amore||Arcetro, Orfeo|
|Tirsi viene in scena sonando la presente Zinfonia||Orfeo, Tirsi|
|Deh come ogni bifolco, ogni pastore||Arcetro, Orfeo|
|Lassa! Che di spavento e di pietate||Dafne, Arcetro, Orfeo|
|Per quel vago boschetto||Dafne, Arcetro|
|Non piango e non sospiro||Orfeo|
|Ahi! Mort' invid' e ria||Arcetro, Dafne, Ninfa del coro|
|Sconsolati desir, gioie fugaci||Aminta, Ninfa del coro|
|Cruda morte, ahi pur potesti||Coro, Ninfa del coro, Due Ninfa e un Pastore del coro|
|Se fato invido e rio||Arcetro, Coro|
|Con frettoloso passo||Arcetro, Dafne, Coro|
|Io che pensato havea di starmi ascoso||Arcetro, Pastore del coro|
|Se de' boschi i verdi onori||Coro|
|Poi che dal bel sereno||Pastore del coro, Coro|
|Scene 4||Scorto da immortal guida||Venere, Orfeo|
|L'oscuro varc'onde siam giunti a queste||Venere|
|Funeste piagge, ombrosi orridi campi||Orfeo|
|Ond'e cotanto ardire||Plutone|
|Deh, se la bella Diva||Orfeo|
|Dentro l'infernal porte||Plutone, Orfeo|
|O Re, nel cui sembiante||Prosperpina|
|A si soavi preghi||Orfeo, Plutone|
|Sovra l'eccelse stelle||Caronte, Plutone, Orfeo|
|Trionfi oggi pietà ne' campi inferni||Plutone, Orfeo,|
|Poi che gl'eterni imperi||Deita D'Inferno primo coro, Secondo coro, Radamanto|
|Scene 5||Già del bel carro ardente||Arcetro, Coro|
|Voi, che sì ratt'il volo||Aminta, Coro, Arcetro|
|Quand'al tempio n'andaste, io mi pensai||Aminta, Pastore del coro|
|Chi può del cielo annoverar le stelle||Aminta, Arcetro|
|Gioite al canto mio selve frondose||Orfeo, Ninfa del coro|
|Quella, quella son io, per cui piangeste||Euridice, Ninfa del coro, Dafne, Arcetro, Orfeo, Aminta|
|Modi or soavi or mesti||Orfeo|
|Felice semideo, ben degna prole||Aminta|
|Ritornello strumentale||Tutto il coro|
|Biond' arcier, che d'alto monte||(ritornello instrumentale)|
It should be noted that various chorus names are as they appear in the original Italian score. Pastore, Ninfa/Ninfe, and Deita D'Inferno refer to choruses of shepherds, nymphs and Deities of Hell respectively.
- "Le tre Euridici: Characterization and Allegory in the Euridici of Peri and Caccini". Journal of Seventeenth-Century Music. Retrieved 2011-06-23.
- Pietropaolo, Domenico and Parker, Mary Ann (2011). The Baroque Libretto: Italian Operas and Oratorios in the Thomas Fisher Library at the University of Toronto, p. 60. University of Toronto Press
- Oldmeadow, p. 121
- Hill, p. ?
- Sources for the libretto divide the work into a prologue (one scene) and one Act with six scenes. Modern recordings tend to divide the opera into a prologue, a first act, with scenes 1–3, and a second act, with scenes 4–5. It is unclear why these different descriptions have emerged, but the confusion is largely cosmetic: in the end, the score, libretto and recording cited here all contain the same individual musical numbers.
- Hill, John Walter (2005). Baroque Music: Music in Western Europe, 1580–1750. Norton. ISBN 0-393-97800-1.
- Oldmeadow, Earnest (1909). Great Musicians. Forgotten Books.
- Other sources
- Brown, Howard Mayer. "Euridice (i)", Grove Music Online, ed. L. Macy (accessed February 7, 2006), grovemusic.com (subscription access).
- Burkholder, Peter J., Donald Jay Grout, and Claude V. Palisca (1960/2010). A History of Western Music, 8th edition. New York: Norton. 986 pages
- Porter, William V.. "Jacopo Peri", Grove Music Online, ed. L. Macy (accessed February 7, 2006), grovemusic.com (subscription access).
- Weiss, Piero, and Richard Taruskin (1984). Music in the Western World: A History in Documents. Belmont: Scrimer. 556 pages.
- Peri, Jacopo (1995). Euridice / Jacopo Peri. Authentic CD .P441 A.1–5 Arts Music