Claudio Giovanni Antonio Monteverdi was born in Cremona, Italy. His actual birth date is unknown, but church records show that he was baptized on May 15,567. He played a major role in the development and perfectoin of early baroque music. He composed eight books of mardigals, the first five of which seperated him from other composers of the time. In 1607 he produced his first work in the new genre of opera, _L'Orfeo_. In 1613, he was appointed maestro di cappella at St. Mark's in Venice. He remained in Venice for the rest of his life, writing music in all genres, including his final opera, _L'incoronazione di Poppea_ (1642).
Monteverdi's first musical drama, _L'Orfeo_, surpassed all pervious attempts at musical drama. It was possibly the most important development in the history of opera. He established it as a serious form of musical and dramatic expression by utilising "a rich palette of vocal and instrumental resources" (Hanning 181).
This opera was modeled after Peri's _Euridice_, and "given this background and Monteverdi's gift for intellegent barrowing, the form and manner of this new opera were almost predictable" (Arnold 106). Despite the apparent similarities, this opera set itself apart from the older operas. Monteverdi's score was written for forty instruments, and different instruments were specified for the different parts- a first of his time (Estrella). The orchesta, considerably enlarged and varied, and including an elaborate strings section (Harnoncourt 128), was used not merely as an accompaniment for the singers but also to establish the moods of the various scenes. Monteverdi added many solos, duets, and small ensembles to provide contrast to the work. In addition to this, the music overall is more lyrical, "his recitative achieves more continuity and a longer line through careful tonal organization" (Hanning 181). The public received _L'Orfeo_...