Dafne is the earliest known work that, by modern standards, could be considered an opera.

The story of Apollo falling in love with the eponymous nymph Daphne, Jacopo Peri wrote Dafne for an elite circle of humanists in Florence, the Florentine Camerata, between 1594 and 1597. It was probably first performed in either 1597 or 1598.

An attempt to revive Greek mythology, Peri's work has been lost, despite its popularity and fame in Europe at the time of its publishing.

The libretto for Dafne was written by Ottavio Rinuccini.

R.A. Streatfeild

The foundations of the new art-form rested upon the theory that the drama of the Greeks was throughout declaimed to a musical accompaniment. The reformers, therefore, dismissed spoken dialogue from their drama, and employed in its place a species of free declamation or recitative, which they called musica parlante. The first work in which the new style of composition was used was the 'Dafne' of Jacopo Peri, which was privately performed in 1597. No trace of this work survives, nor of the musical dramas by Emilio del Cavaliere and Vincenzo Galilei to which the closing years of the sixteenth century gave birth. But it is best to regard these privately performed works merely as experiments, and to date the actual foundation of opera from the year 1600, when a public performance of Peri's 'Euridice' was given at Florence in honour of the marriage of Maria de' Medici and Henry IV. of France.

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