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La Dafne (Daphne)

(Marco da Gagliano)

This opera was written by Gagliano in Italy in the first decade of the 17th century and was at first meant to be for the wedding of Margherita of Savoy and Prince Francesco Gonzaga of Mantua.  However, the wedding was later than planned due to the bride being delayed and the performance of Dafne was given in advance at Mantua’s Ducal Palace in February 1608.  A further performance was given in private in 1611 for the Medici family, who were patrons to Gagliano.

Containing one act and a prologue, the libretto for the opera was by Ottavio Rinuccini and is based on the mythical story of Apollo and Daphne written by Ovid in his Metamorphoses.  Jacopo Peri had originally used the same text by Ottavio Rinuccini in 1597 for his opera, also entitled Dafne.

The music was published in October 1608 and Gagliano gave specific details on how it should be performed.  This included having a stand-in for Apollo during a combat scene so that the main actor could sing the ensuing aria without being out of breath.

He also stated that he wanted the orchestra in the front of the stage so the singers could see them, and having the soloists and chorus apart from each other.

Ensembles such as the Camerata Accademica of Hamburg, Ensemble Elyma and Ensemble Fuoco e Cenere have made recordings of the opera.

Here an excerpt performed by Fuoco E Cenere…