In the classical tradition, Orpheus is the epitome of the artist, so gifted in music that he can move the gods themselves. That being said, Claudio Monteverdi's L'Orfeo was bound to be one of the most successful works in the history of melodrama; in fact, L'Orfeo is the first masterpiece in the art of melodrama! Using all the musical innovations of his time and particularly daring polyphony, Monteverdi's work tells the story of Orpheus and his journey to the Underworld to retrieve his beloved Eurydice. But all it takes is a single glance and all seems lost... Musicologist Robert Donington writes about this first opera in the history of music: "The score contains no elements that were not used before, but it reaches complete maturity in this newly born artistic form [...] with the total inspiration of Genius!" The proposition by Alessandro Striggio, Monteverdi's librettist, to conclude the piece with the glorification of Orpheus, taking place among the constellations, then appears as the only possible outcome for a drama as sublime as L'Orfeo.

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Before delving into Monteverdi's L'Orfeo, let's briefly recall the history of the masterpiece. In the 16th century, the court of the Gonzaga family, rulers of Mantua, played a significant role in nurturing the flourishing of Baroque art. In 1598, Monteverdi assisted the court's music ensemble in staging the drama Il pastor fido by Giovanni Battista Guarini; theater historian Mark Ringer describes it as a "decisive step in the history of opera," influencing the Italian fashion of pastoral drama. In this context, Alessandro Striggio, the librettist of Monteverdi's L'Orfeo, drew inspiration from Ovid's Metamorphoses, Virgil's fourth book of the Georgics, as well as more recent works by Ange Politien and Ottavio Rinuccini, to create a drama with an effective tragic structure. The result was astonishing! L'Orfeo swiftly captivated the most esteemed European theaters of its time. Today, the best theater stage is in your own home! offers you the finest performances of Monteverdi's L'Orfeo, whenever and wherever you desire!