Composed at the very beginning of the 17thcentury, Monteverdi's L'Orfeo is one of the very first operas in history, and was premiered in Mantova in 1607. Alessandro Striggio's libretto, totally inspired by its era, echoes the codes of love poetry in the Renaissance: it is an elegy of the beloved woman, who by gallantry is mostly named by her eyes.
Stephen Stubbs goes back on the history of the beginning of the opera and presents his baroque ensemble. L'Orfeo is an iconic opera which is also very symbolic. As John Mayer Ainsley remarks, his character Orfeo is "representative of the singer, if not the complete musician" in his mythical form and moreover in Monteverdi's work, where he uses every vocal style available at the time to get through the ordeal of Eurydice's death and his journey in hell.