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Harvard University

First Nights - Monteverdi’s L’Orfeo and the Birth of Opera

Harvard University via edX


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.

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.

Taught by

Thomas Forrest Kelly


5.0 rating, based on 3 Class Central reviews

5 rating at edX based on 8 ratings

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  • It is a course about L'Orfeo from Monteverdi, one of the first opera of the history. It talks about context, circumstances about the creation of the opera and it analyzes the music too.
  • The whole series is absolutely amazing. I was skeptical at first since I thought L'Orfeo wouldn't be as interesting to me as were Handel and Beethoven. Boy, was I wrong. Professor Keller manages to convey the beauty and amazing skills poured down in this work to you as if you're watching a movie rather than studying. Amazing teaching style, great examples and historical trivia, along with live performance. What a course!

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