Italian opera is the earliest known opera form. Although the Greek and Roman Theater had inspired it, it inspired many countries around the world, including most of Europe. Some say that the word opera has been derived from the Italian words “Opera in Musica” which means work in music. The evidence of the very first opera performed in Italy was at the wedding of Marie de Medici and Henry IV of France. The Italian opera had three stages namely the baroque, the romantic and the modern.
Baroque period is the name of that period of Italian opera that originated in Italy in the beginning of the 17th century. The voice used was very high pitched along with instrumental music. This style was known as monody and was developed by Giulio Caccini and Jacopo Peri. It was reflected in the opera Euridice that was based on the story of Eurydice and Orpheus. When there were no dialogues during the performance, there were songs with music. This type of opera inspired many other writes, on of them was Claudio Monteverdi who wrote La Favola D’Orfeo that had the monody style. It was his first play and it still is famous with the audience today. Monteverdi worked hard on synchronizing instrumental music with the words and showed this effort in Mantua, with large choruses with nearly forty instruments that created a really good effect. He was named as the Maestro Da Cappela in Venice in the year 1613.
The first opera house for public was opened in the year 1637. Monteverdi wrote many compositions for this theater and his works L’Incoronazione di Poppae and I Ritomo d’Ullise in Patria were prominent out of the many. He even brought the Bel Canto and Buffa styles into Italian opera. Bel canto had a more even tone and eased the singing stress. Buffa had more comic touch with amusing and mocking elements. All these acted as the stepping-stone for many other later composers. At the end of the century there were three hundred and fifty opera created for the theaters of Venice alone. Many young artists were inspired to work in these theaters and bring out their talents. People came from outside Italy too.
In the 19th century romantic opera began to rise and Gioacchino Rossini was responsible for it. The romantic opera involved lots of emotions and imagination along with lots of music and arias. This music was so fine that it over shadowed the blunders in the stories. His composures such as La Cenerentola and Barber of Seville are famous till today. Many others such as Vincenzo Bellini, Giuseppe Verdi and Gaetano Donizetti followed him.
Giuseppe Verdi changed the way opera was written at that time. Nabucco was his first work and it was a very big success because of the great choruses along with enormous liveliness in the music. He even wrote Va pensiero, a chorus presentation to inspire the warriors at the time of Italian independence struggle. The works, which followed this had a more patriotic theme and were also based on older romantic works. He began to venture into different musical forms and finally his creation Otello replaced Rossini’s opera. His last work Falstaff finally changed the conventional form of theater and made music and words more free flowing.