Baroque Period

1600 – 1750

The musical period that saw an expansion in harmonic complexity and an emphasis on contrast. Opera saw an emphasis in the aria as opposed to the recitative. Instrumental music saw the rise in sonata form, the suite and the concerto grosso. A few noted composers of this time period are Handle, Vivaldi and Bach.

 

Orfeo

Claudio Monteverdi – 1607

The oldest surviving opera, Orfeo is the story of a prince who attempts to rescue his dead lover from the underworld with the power of song. When Monteverdi composed this work, he was creating a new style drama per musica that was building on the ideas created by the Florentine Camerata.

 

Dido and Aenas

Purcell – 1689

Composed in 1689 by English composed Henry Purcell, the first known performance was by the Josiah Priest’s girl’s school. Since there are no surviving copies in Purcell’s hand, many editinos with realizations have been created. “When I am laid in Earth” is a popular aria that is sometimes referred to as “Dido’s Lament.”

 

Giulio Ceasare

George Friedrich Handel – 1724

Recounting the love story of Caesar and Cleopatra, this Baroque opera boasts a lush, gorgeous score that incorporated horns, recorders, gamba, and bassoon into its orchestra. Encompassing many noted arias, for example, “Ombra mai fu,” it is renowned for its deft, dramatic vocal writing.

 

Orpheus and Eurdydice

Christoph Willibald Gluck – 1762