Introduction

Claudio Monteverdi’s L’Orfeo premiered in Mantua in 1607, and continues to be regarded as one of the most important examples of early opera. With L’Orfeo, Monteverdi helped to establish the techniques and traditions that continue to inform the genre of opera to this day.

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Harvard’s Thomas Forrest Kelly (Morton B. Knafel Professor of Music) guides learners through the first half of L’Orfeo, highlighting aspects of operatic form and dramatic technique, the rehearsals and cultural context for the premiere performance, and the work’s continued relevance today. There will also be a focus on Monteverdi’s life and work as a Renaissance court musician.

In this music course, you will learn the basics of operatic form and analysis, the genres and styles used, and the circumstances of this opera’s first performance and subsequent history. Learners in this course need not have any prior musical experience.

Additional First Nights Modules:

Meet The Faculty

Thomas Forrest Kelly

Thomas Forrest Kelly

Morton B. Knafel Professor of Music

Tom Kelly is the Morton B. Knafel Professor of Music at Harvard University. Professor Kelly received his B.A. from Chapel Hill; spent two years on a Fulbright in France studying musicology, chant, and organ. He holds a Ph.D. from Harvard (1973) with a dissertation on office tropes. He has taught at Wellesley, Smith, Amherst, and at Oberlin, where he directed the Historical Performance Program and served as acting Dean of the Conservatory. He was named a Harvard College Professor in 2000 and the Morton B. Knafel Professor of Music in 2001. 

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