Who Wrote the First Opera?

The first opera is generally recognized as “Daphne,” written by Jacopo Peri, and first performed in either 1597 or 1598. Although the music is lost, “Daphne” was the first of a number of pieces that established Italian opera.

“Daphne” was performed in the home of Jacopo Corsi in Florence. Corsi and Peri were both members of a group that believed classic Greek dramas were actually sung, rather than spoken. The group used this assumption to forge the basic tenets of opera, directly influencing modern works such as “Aida” and “La Boheme.”

While “Daphne” is the first true example of opera, the form has many predecessors, including medieval liturgical dramas dating back to the 10th century and liturgical plays dating back to the early 13th century.