Rappresentatione di Anima, et di Corpo

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Rappresentatione di anima et di corpo (1600) is a musical work by Emilio de' Cavalieri to a libretto by Agostino Manni (1548-1618). With it, Cavalieri regarded himself as the composer of the first opera or oratorio. Whether or not he was actually the first is subject to some academic debate, as is whether the work is better categorized as an opera or an oratorio.

Since the Rappresentatione is fully staged, in three acts with a spoken prologue, it can be considered to be the first surviving opera as such. It was presented twice in February 1600.[1]

On 10 November 1600 Emilio de Cavalieri wrote a letter arguing that he, not Jacopo Peri, was the true reviver of Greek style acting with singing, i.e. opera. Peri later deferred to him in the preface to the published version of Euridice in 1601.

It was imagined, almost certainly wrongly, that Greek drama was sung, not declaimed, therefore opera was a Renaissance revival of ancient practice.


There are modern editions of the "opera":

  • Emilio de Cavalieri, (ed. Philip Thorby), Rappresentatione di anima et di corpo, (King's Music, 1994);
  • the American Institute of Musicology, edition of 2007 (Modern score & 1 vol. of Facsimiles and translations).


In 2003 at Ludwigsburg Festival the conductor Teodor Currentzis presented a concert performance of "Rappresentatione" in instrumentation and performance adaptation for 8 singers and 8 instruments by Alexander Shchetynsky.



  1. ^ Hitchcock, Cavalieri


  • Murray C. Bradshaw, and Agostino Manni, Emilio de'Cavalieri, Rappresentatione di anima, et di corpo: 1600, (American Institute of Musicology, 2007).
  • H. Wiley Hitchcock: "Cavalieri, Emilio de'", Grove Music Online, ed. L. Macy (Accessed 4 July 2007), (subscription access)
  • H. Wiley Hitchcock, "Cavalieri, Emilio"; also "Opera", "Intermedio", "Peri", "Rappresentatione". The New Grove Dictionary of Opera, (MacMillan, 1992).
  • Composing opera from Dafne to Ulisse Errante, (translated Tim Carter), Practica musica No. 2 (Kraków : Musica Jagellonica, 1994). (English translations of prefaces to 17th-century Italian operas, by Rinuccini, Peri, Caccini; Marco da Gagliano, Cavalieri, Agazzari, Vitali, Mazzocchi, Ottavio Tronsarelli, Landi, Michelangelo Rossi, and Giacomo Badoaro. Includes Italian originals.)

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