- Monteverdi, Claudio
- (1567-1643)Italian composer, best known as one of the developers of the opera in the modern sense of the term. Born and trained in Cremona, he spent the first part of his career (1591-1612) in the service of the duke of Mantua and the second part (1613-1642) as director of music at St. Mark's in Venice, the most prestigious musical appointment in northern Italy. He was trained in the prevailing Renaissance style and in addition to sacred music for use in churches and court ceremonies, he composed some of the finest sec-ular madrigals of Renaissance Italy. But Monteverdi's later madrigals and his operas mark a significant transition in musical style, from tra-ditional Renaissance polyphony, characterized by equality of voices, linear development, and strict observance of counterpoint, to the baroque style of the 17th century, which emphasized use of a duet over a supporting bass and permitted dissonances and embellishments not accepted in Renaissance music, and which also gave the orchestral accompaniment a more prominent role than in the past. His first opera, Orfeo, produced at the court of Mantua in 1607, is the earliest work still in the modern operatic repertory. His other operas include Arianna (1608), of which only a fragment survives, Il combattimento di Tan-credi e Clorinda (1624), Il ritorno d'Ulisse in patria (1640), and L'in-coronzaione di Poppea (1642). Monteverdi also composed ballets and a great body of church music, especially after his move to Venice.
Historical Dictionary of Renaissance. Charles G. Nauert. 2004.