L’Arianna is the lost second opera by Italian composer Claudio Monteverdi. It was composed in 1607–1608 and first performed on 28 May 1608. The libretto, which survives complete, was written in eight scenes by Ottavio Rinuccini. It tells the story of Ariadne’s abandonment by Theseus and her elevation as bride to the god Bacchus. All the music is lost apart from the extended recitative known as ‘Lamento d’ Arianna’
About L’Arianna in brief
L’Arianna is the lost second opera by Italian composer Claudio Monteverdi. It was composed in 1607–1608 and first performed on 28 May 1608. The libretto, which survives complete, was written in eight scenes by Ottavio Rinuccini. It tells the story of Ariadne’s abandonment by Theseus and her elevation as bride to the god Bacchus. All the music is lost apart from the extended recitative known as \”Lamento d’ Arianna\” The work was revived under the composer’s direction in 1640 as the inaugural work for the Teatro San Moisè. It has become popular as a concert and recital piece and has been frequently recorded. It is one of the earliest operas in general, and is generally recognised as the first in the new genre of ‘opera’ —Jacopo Peri’s Dafne was performed in Florence in 1598. The opera was composed under severe pressure of time; the composer later said that the effort of creating it almost killed him. The music survives because it was published, in several different versions, independently from the opera. This fragment became a highly influential musical work and was widely imitated; the \”expressive lament\” became an integral feature of Italian opera for much of the 17th century. A contemporary account records that the piece \”could not have been done better … The music, observing due propriety, serves the poetry so well that nothing more beautiful is to be heard anywhere\”.
It was performed at the wedding of the duke’s son and heir Francesco to Margaret of Savoy, planned for early May 1607. The first performance, produced with lavish and innovative special effects, was highly praised, and the work was equally well received in Venice when it was revived in 16 40. The composer was a primary influence in the emergence of opera as a genre; he adapted the conventions of his lyric poets to produce the librettos for two of his operas. He was also responsible for the setting of the dramatic ballet Il ballo delle ingrate, with a text by Otta Rinuccino. He also composed a musical prologue for Battista Guarini’s play L’idropica and a setting for the play La Pellegrina, performed in May 1589 at the Wedding of Christina I de’ Medici and Christina of Lorraine. In 1590 he secured a position as a viol player at the Mantuan court of Duke Vincenzo Gonzaga. The duke was quick to recognise the potential of this new musical form, and its potential for bringing prestige to those willing to sponsor it. He decreed that the wedding opera should be based on the myth of Arianna, and that Rinuccani should write the text. Other works were under consideration, including Le nozze di Peleo e Tetide with a libretti by Francesco Cini. In the event, the former was rejected and the latter designated for performance at the 1607-08 Carnival.