Ferrari, Benedetto


An Italian poet and composer, who was very proficient on the lute. He was born at Reggio d'Emilia, but passed most of his life at Venice, where he composed the music and words to numerous Italian dramas, and established in 1638 the first Venitian opera house, II Teatro di San Cassiane. Ferrari studied music at Rome and proceeded from there to Venice. His poetical works were issued in 1644. He wrote the opera Andromeda in conjunction with Manelli, and which he produced at his own expense in 1637, it being the first opera ever publicly performed before a mixed audience. Two years later L'Armida and II Pastor Reggio were given, and these were followed by Monteverde's L'Adene. La Ninfa avaral was given in 1641, and others followed. In these operas there were no airs, the diologue being carried on in recitative. Ferrari held several important positions, among them that of courtmaster of the chapel at Modena from 1645 to 1651. He was in the service of the Emperor Ferdinand at Vienna and held an appointment at Ratisbon, where a ballet by him was performed in 1653. All that now remains of his works are the six opera-librettos, produced from 1644 to 1651, and the manuscript of the orchestra introduction to his ballet, Dafne. His librettos were collected and printed, and the library at Modena contains several of his manuscripts. No opinion of his music can be formed as there are so few specimens of it extant. His chief interest to the present generation is the part he played in popularizing the Italian music dramas, which were the forerunners of our modern opera. Ferrari published also a treatise on music in 1638, entitled Musiche varie a voce sola.