Florentine composer Domenico Belli was a contemporary of Claudio Monteverdi who was renowned as the creator of L'Orfeo Dolente (1616), a pivotal entry in the early history of opera. His birthdate is not known, but he may have been somewhat younger than Monteverdi; earliest mention of him in any extant document dates from 1607. In 1609, he accepts the invitation to join the court and chapel of Cardinal Ferdinando Gonzaga in Rome. Though theyRead more remained on friendly terms, Belli did not fulfill the agreement, as through at least 1613 he worked in the service of the Basilica di San Lorenzo in Florence, a parish church to the Medici family containing the chapels where many of the Medici lay buried. In 1618, Belli is shown as married to another musician, soprano and instrumentalist Angelica Belli, and both hired as entertainers within the Medici court. Belli's death in May 1627 was treated as a major and solemn event in Florence, attesting to his fame; Angelica Belli continued to serve in the Medici court for years afterward.
Belli's fame was based on the intermezzo opera L'Orfeo Dolente, which revolutionized some formal aspects of opera and remained popular at least until Belli died, and likely to some extent after. The only other works by Belli known to posterity appeared in print at the exact same time as L'Orfeo Dolente in 1616, a collection of 35 monodic arias and his setting of the Requiem mass Officium defunctorum. No trace survives of another opera, Andromeda (1618), of which Giulio Caccini's high opinion is recorded in a letter written the day after it was premiered. All of Belli's work is conceived in a manneristic style that is highly chromatic and exploratory; the great popularity of L'Orfeo Dolente may have in part led to the trend against such music beginning in the 1620s. Read less
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