"Monteverdi’s Musical Theatre" by Tim Carter

Monteverdi’s Musical Theatre Tim Carter

Publication date:
26 May 2015
Yale University Press
336 pages: 235 x 156mm
8 b-w illus. + 35 musical examples

Claudio Monteverdi (1567–1643) is well known as the composer of the earliest operas still performed today. His Orfeo, Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patria, and L’incoronazione di Poppea are internationally popular nearly four centuries after their creation. These seminal works represent only a part of Monteverdi’s music for the stage, however. He also wrote numerous works that, while not operas, are no less theatrical in their fusion of music, drama, and dance. This impressive book is the first to survey Monteverdi’s entire output of music for the theater—his surviving operas, lost operas, and other dramatic musical compositions.

Tim Carter, a leading Monteverdi expert, begins by charting the progress of early opera from the north Italian courts to the “public” theaters of Venice. He places Monteverdi’s stage works in the broader context of early seventeenth-century theatrical endeavor and explores crucial questions of genre, interpretation, and performance practices both then and now. Taking a pragmatic view of how the works were brought to life in the theater and how they were seen in their own time, Carter discusses the complex modes of production that involved a range of artists, artisans, creators, and performers. With insightful commentary on the composer’s individual works and on the cultural and theatrical contexts in which they were performed, Carter casts new light on Monteverdi’s remarkable achievement as a man of the theater.

Tim Carter is David G. Frey Distinguished Professor of Music at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.