Reviewed on Mon 28 Jul, 2014
Rinaldo Alessandrini and his period-instrument Concerto Italiano have recorded a great deal of early baroque opera before, but Caccini’s L’Euridice pre-dates even Monteverdi’s famous works. Written in 1600 for the wedding of Maria de’ Medici, Caccini’s piece vies with another setting of the same libretto by Jacopo Peri for the title of the first opera. In fact both composers seem to have written staged musical dramas before, but this is the earliest to have survived. Although details of its staging and even of instrumentation require a great deal of reconstruction, Caccini’s setting is certainly dramatic enough to qualify as an opera – recitatives that move the plot forward are interspersed with florid arias, duets and lively ensembles. Alessandrini’s own performing edition keeps the focus on the mix of voices, with instruments filling out the basic continuo part. Anyone familiar with Monteverdi’s L’Orfeo will surely want to discover this charming predecessor.