Page:A Dictionary of Music and Musicians vol 2.djvu/703

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in the style which was then believed to be identical with that cultivated by the antient Greek Tragedians. The work was privately performed, in the Palazzo Corsi, in the year 1597 Peri himself playing the part of Apollo. To him, therefore, belongs the honour of having composed and assisted in the performance of the first true Opera that ever was placed upon the Stage. A still greater honour, however, was in store for him. This performance was witnessed only by a select circle of Signor Corsi's personal friends. But, in the year 1600, Peri was commissioned to produce an Opera for public performance on the occasion of the Marriage of Henri IV of France with Maria de' Medici. The subject chosen for this was 'Euridice.' Rinuccini again supplied the Libretto, and Peri wrote the Music in the same style as that he had already adopted in 'Dafne,' though, it is to be supposed, with greater freedom and vigour. The success of the work was all that could possibly be desired. It proved that the Ideal conceived by the little band of enthusiasts was capable of satisfactory embodiment in a practical form; and that form was at once adopted as the normal type of the long-desired Lyric Drama. It is true that, some months before the production of 'Euridice,' Emilio del Cavaliere's Oratorio, 'La Rappresentazione di anima e di corpo,' had been publicly performed, at Rome, with Scenery, Dresses, and Action; and that the Music of this work is written in exactly the same kind of Recitative as 'Euridice.' But, Peri's claim to be regarded as the Composer of the first Opera rests, not on 'Euridice,' but on 'Dafne,' though that work was never produced in public; and the only ground on which that claim can be disputed is the fact that Emilio del Cavaliere is known to have composed two sæcular pieces, called 'Il Satiro,' and 'La Disperazione di Fileno,' which were both privately performed in 1590, and a third work, entitled 'Il Giuoco della Cieca,' which was performed before the Archduke Ferdinand in 1595. Not a trace of either of these three works now remains to us. They are described as 'Pastorals,' and may or may not have been of sufficiently large dimensions to entitle them to rank as Dramas. Moreover, we cannot be quite certain that they were written in the same style as the Oratorio. As the case now stands, therefore, and until we are furnished with more decisive evidence than that we now possess, Jacopo Peri stands before us as the acknowledged Father of a form of Art which is very nearly the greatest that it has ever entered into the mind of man ever to conceive, still less to bring, through so many difficulties, to a successful issue.

Strange to say, Peri made no attempt to follow up his wonderful success. Probably no opportunity for the production of another public performance on so extensive a scale occurred during his life-time—for, in those days, such scenic displays were exhibited only on very grand occasions, such as Royal Marriages, or other events of great public interest. But, whatever may have been the cause of his retirement, Peri produced no more Operas. We hear of his appointment, in the year 1601, as Maestro di Cappella to the Duke of Ferrara; and, after that, no record remains of him beyond the publication of his latest known work, 'Le varie Musiche del Sig. Jacopo Peri, a una, due, e tre voci, con alcuni spirituali in ultimo,' at Florence, in 1610. The precise year of his death has not been ascertained.

It does not appear that 'Dafne' was ever published: at any rate, no traces of it have been preserved to us, beyond a few pieces contributed by Caccini, and included in his 'Nuove Musiche' (Florence, 1602). 'Euridice' was happily printed, in a complete form, in the year of its production, under the title of 'Le Musiche di Jacopo Peri, nobil fiorentino, sopra L'Euridice del. Sig. Ottavio Rinuccini,' etc., Fiorenza, 1600; and reprinted at Venice in 1608, and again at Florence in 1860, in small 8vo. Both the early editions are now exceedingly rare. We ourselves have never been fortunate enough to meet with an example of the first; but a copy of the Venetian reprint is preserved in the Library of the British Museum, and some extracts from this will be found on page 499 of the present volume. This interesting work, and the 'Varie Musiche' already mentioned, are believed to be the only specimens of Peri's compositions now in existence. Kiesewetter has reprinted 3 madrigals for 4 voices in his 'Schicksale und Beschaffenheit des weltlichen Gesanges' (Leipzig, 1841).

[ W. S. R. ]

PERIELESIS (Gr. περιείλησις, a convolution). A long, and sometimes extremely elaborate form of Ligature, sung towards the close of a Plain Chaunt Melody. It differs from the Pneuma in that it is always sung to a definite syllable; whereas the very essence of the Pneuma lies in its adaptation to an inarticulate sound. Like the Cadenza in modern music, the Perielesis generally makes its appearance in connection with the penultimate or antepenultimate syllable of a final phrase: but it is not absolutely necessary that the phrase should be a final one, or that the entrance of the Perielesis should be deferred until its conclusion.

The Melody of 'Æterna Christi munera' exhibits a fine example of an antepenultimate Perielesis, in the 1st and 4th lines, and an equally effective one on the final syllable of the 3rd line.

{ \override Score.TimeSignature #'stencil = ##f \relative g' { \override Score.Stem #'stencil = ##f \cadenzaOn g1^"Mode VII." g a b\breve g1 a\[ b c b a\breve\] g4 g1 \bar "|" g b c d e\breve d1( b) c d \bar "|" d d d e d c b a\[ b c b a\breve g1\] \bar "|" g g a b\breve g1 a\[ b c b a\breve\] g4 g1 \bar "||" } }

A more elaborate form furnishes the distinguishing characteristic of 'Ite missa est' and 'Benedicamus Domino,' and is found, in the