“L’armonia delle Sfere””

Harmony of the Spheres


Sala delle Muse - the birth of opera in Florence at Palazzo Corsi-Tornabuoni



illustrated lecture by John Hoenig
with original images and arias of
key Florentine works

from 1589 to 1625 performed by

Laura Andreini, soprano
Andrea Benucci, tiorba

Corsi, Peri and Dafne at Palazzo Tornabuoni


The patrons and composers of the late cinquecento festival events all directly contributed to the future development of opera over the subsequent decades. Tonight’s unique event will focus on the pioneering work of the composers and poets: including Jacopo Peri, Giulio Caccini, Marco da Gagliano and Ottavio Rinuccini - and the designers: Bernardo Buontalenti and Ludovico Cardi detto il Cigoli.


Lavish music-theatre presentations flourished in Florence from the early 15th century in churches, private palazzi and custom-built theatres - but there came a turning point in the late 16th century. The earliest produced opera, as we now know the genre in its continued format, occurred in this Palazzo during Carnevale of 1597 - thanks to its patron Jacopo Corsi. The common themes of the early operas were mythological allegory - in particular Apollo & Dafne and Orfeo & Euridice.

Moving into the first decades of the 17th century, one encounters an intriguing period uniquely distinguished by female patrons of female artists (visual, literary and musical). Significant proponents of this were Medici grand-duchesses Cristina di Lorena and Maria Maddalena d'Austria who supported the singer and composer Francesca Caccini - the first female composer of an opera.

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© John Hoenig 2016-17

members’ event

Sala delle Muse
Palazzo Tornabuoni
October 2016

June 2017

photo © Camilla Cheade 2016