Italy this week celebrated the 400th birthday of its great theatrical invention, the opera, with a staging of Orfeo, by Monteverdi, first staged in Mantua in 1607. While Orfeo wasn’t the first or even the second opera—those distinctions belong to Dafne and Eurydice, both by Jacopo Peri—it was the first to be adopted by performers elsewhere. Hollywood managed to one-up Italy, though: Long Beach Opera in Los Angeles held a 400th anniversary celebration for opera back in 2000, with a performance of Peri’s Eurydice. The score to Dafne is lost.
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