When Did Opera Music Start?

This article is a collaborative effort, crafted and edited by a team of dedicated professionals.

Contributors: Andranick Tanguiane, Fred Lerdahl,


Opera music has been around for centuries, with the first opera date back to the 1600s. However, the type of opera we know and love today didn’t start to take form until the late 1700s. So when did opera music start?


Opera music started to develop in the late 16th century in Florence, Italy. The first opera was Dafne by Jacopo Peri, which was performed in 1598. Opera is a combination of vocal and instrumental music, theater, and sometimes dance. The word “opera” comes from the Italian word “opera”, which means “work”.

The Origins of Opera

Opera is a musical art form that originated in Italy in the late 16th century. The first opera was Dafne by Jacopo Peri, which was performed in Florence in 1598. Opera quickly spread throughout Italy and to other European countries.

Early Opera in Italy

Although there were attempts to recreate Greek tragedy on the Italian stage in the 16th century, it was not until the end of that century that a lasting form of dramatic opera was created in Florence. There, a group of poets, musicians, and scholars, known as the Florentine Camerata, attempted to revive ancient Greek drama. They believed that the key to this lay in recreating the Greek chorus and acting without costumes or scenery— factors that they felt had adulterated true drama. The first significant work of this kind was Jacopo Peri’s Dafne (1597), which told the story of the nymph Daphne’s transformation into a laurel tree.

The Camerata also proposed returning to some of the principles of musical composition that were thought to have been used in Ancient Greece. These included using a single line of melody (monody) instead of multiple independent voices, and having this melody accompanied by a simple harmony. This new style of composition was used by Giulio Caccini in his song collection Le nuove musiche (New Music, 1602). It quickly became popular, and by 1607 Monteverdi had used it in his Orfeo— widely considered to be the first masterpiece of opera.

The Birth of Opera in Florence

Opera is a form of musical theatre that combines acting, singing, and dancing, and is usually performed in an opera house. Opera originated in Italy in the late 16th century, and quickly spread throughout Europe. The first opera was Dafne, composed by Jacopo Peri and written by Ottavio Rinuccini. It was performed in Florence in 1598.

Opera quickly became popular in Italy, particularly in Venice and Rome. By the early 17th century, opera had spread throughout Europe. In England, the first professional opera company was formed in 1642. Opera quickly became popular in England, particularly with the nobility.

Opera remained popular throughout the 18th century, with new operas being composed by such famous composers as Mozart andHandel. However, it lost some of its popularity during the 19th century due to Competition from other forms of entertainment such as the circus and variety shows. Nevertheless, opera continued to be performed throughout the world during the 20th century and remains popular today.

The Spread of Opera

Opera is a musical art form that originated in Italy in the early 1600s. It quickly spread throughout Europe, and by the early 1800s, had become one of the most popular forms of entertainment. Today, opera music is enjoyed by people all over the world.

Opera in Germany

Germany has a strong tradition of opera, dating back to the 16th century. The first German operas were written in the early Baroque period, around the same time as the Italian composers were beginning to experiment with the form.

The first German opera, Dafne, was written by Heinrich Schütz in 1627. It was based on a libretto by Giovanni Francesco Busenello, an Italian who had been living in Germany. Schütz’s opera was followed by several others in the early Baroque period, including works by Jakob Praetorius and Kaspar Förster.

The German Baroque composer Georg Philipp Telemann was one of the most important figures in the development of opera in Germany. He wrote several works in the genre, including Orpheus (1726), which is considered to be the first German opera seria. Telemann’s operas were very popular in their time, and helped to spread the popularity of opera throughout Germany.

Opera continued to be popular in Germany during the Classical period, with composers such as Johann Adolf Hasse and Christoph Willibald Gluck writing successful works in the genre. The 19th century saw a decline in opera’s popularity in Germany, due in part to competition from other genres such as operetta. However, composers such as Wagner and Richard Strauss continued to write operas that were performed all over the world.

Opera in France

Opera in France began in the late 16th century, with productions of comic operas and tragedies by Jean-Baptiste Lully and his followers. These works were very popular with the royal court and the general public, and helped to establish opera as a significant genre in French culture.

The 18th century saw a decline in the popularity of opera in France, due in part to the increasing popularity of other genres such as tragedy and comedy. However, several important operas were still produced during this period, including Christoph Willibald Gluck’s Orfeo ed Euridice (1774) and Jean-Philippe Rameau’s Hippolyte et Aricie (1733).

The 19th century was a golden age for opera in France, with many great composers such as Giacomo Meyerbeer, Hector Berlioz, and Georges Bizet working in the genre. French opera reached new heights of popularity and artistic achievement during this period, with works such as Meyerbeer’s Les Huguenots (1836) and Bizet’s Carmen (1875) becoming classics of the repertoire.

Opera continued to be popular in France throughout the 20th century, with many important composers such as Claude Debussy, Maurice Ravel, and Francis Poulenc writing works in the genre. However, it was not until the latter half of the century that French opera truly came into its own, with composer Pierre Boulez creating a new style of work that blended electronics and traditional orchestration. Opera remain an important part of French cultural life today, with companies such as the Opéra National de Paris continuing to produce new works and stage classic productions.

The Decline of Opera

In the 17th century, opera was the most popular form of entertainment in Europe. It was a lavish affair, with expensive costumes and set designs, and only the wealthy could afford to see it. However, by the early 20th century, opera was in decline. There were a number of reasons for this, including the rise of other forms of entertainment, such as cinema and theatre, and the increasing popularity of pop music.

The French Revolution

The French Revolution was a major turning point in the history of opera. It brought about the end of the aristocratic tradition of private opera performances in favour of public concerts that were open to all. The change in attitude was due to a number of factors, including the growing popularity of democracy and the rise of middle-class values.

Opera began to lose its hold on the public imagination in the early 19th century. This was partly due to competition from other forms of entertainment, such as theatre and music hall, but it was also due to a change in fashion. The new style of Romanticism favoured more personal, introspective music, which did not always sit easily with the grandiose spectacle of opera.

The last few decades of the 20th century saw a revival of interest in opera, thanks to a number of factors, including an increase in government funding and the development of new technologies that made it possible to experience opera in different ways. However, it remains to be seen whether opera can regain its former place in the public consciousness.

The Rise of Realism

The early 1850s saw a decisive shift in operatic taste towards what is generally termed as “realism”, a style of writing that sought to realistically portray contemporary subjects, often drawn from the lives of the lower classes, through plots based on topical issues or crimes. This was in contrast to the highly stylised and otherworldly settings and plots of works such as those by Giacomo Meyerbeer. The change was brought about partly through the success of French grand opéra composer Giacomo Meyerbeer and his 1831 work Robert le diable, whichinfluenced a trend towards opéra comique with realistic settings and social commentary. Other early examples include Vincenzo Bellini’s Norma (1831) and I puritani (1835), Gaetano Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor (1835), Fromental Halévy’s La Juive (1835), Mikhail Glinka’s Ruslan and Lyudmila(1842), and Giuseppe Verdi’s Nabucco(1842).

Similar Posts