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Luigi Rossi



Italian composer and keyboard player Luigi Rossi (c1597–1653) was one of the most prominent and successful writers of vocal music in 17th-century Italy.

Rossi is thought to have been born in Torremaggiore. Details of his early life are as obscure, but by 1620 he was in Rome and that year became a sonatore (instrumentalist) in the household of Marc’Antonio Borghese. In 1633 he became organist at San Luigi dei Francesi, a centre of Roman music, and remained in the post to the end of his life. By the end of the 1630s he was in the service of Cardinal Antonio Baberini, and in the early 1640s Antonio sponsored Rossi’s first opera Il palazzo incantato. During the 1640s Rossi’s music was heard in France and when Antonio was forced to flee Rome for Paris in 1645 Rossi followed him in 1646. His Orfeo had its premiere there in 1647. For the next few years he alternated between Rome and Paris, also visiting Provence, before settling in Rome in 1651 as a leading figure in the city’s musical life.

Rossi’s main output were his nearly three hundred settings of Italian secular verse, including Gelosia ch’a poco a poco, which demonstrate his command of different styles. Very little of his instrumental music remains. His opera Orfeo shows a masterful handling of ensemble writing and contains much beautifully emotive music.

News and features

Opera Essentials: Luigi Rossi’s Orpheus at the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse

21 October 2015
Opera Essentials: Luigi Rossi’s <em>Orpheus</em> at the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse

Our quick introduction to this fabulous Baroque opera.

Orpheus Musical Highlight: ‘Mio ben teco’

16 October 2015
<em>Orpheus</em> Musical Highlight: ‘Mio ben teco’

An effortless and moving statement of undying love, this aria from opera's earliest years by Luigi Rossi deserves to be far better known.

Don’t Look Now: Operatic responses to Orpheus

15 September 2015
Don’t Look Now: Operatic responses to Orpheus

Why does he look back? The Royal Opera’s five Orpheus works this year each give very different answers.