The Kennedy Center

Benedetto Ferrari


An Italian librettist, composer, instrumentalist, impresario and poet, Benedetto Ferrari established the tradition of public operatic performances at Venice along with Francesco Manelli. Recorded as having died in 1681 at the age of 84, most biographers give Ferrari's date of birth as about 1597, though 1603 and 1604 are also used.
Ferrari was a member of the choir of the Collegio Germanico, Rome between 1617 and 1618 and was a musician at the Farnese court at Parma from January 1619 until March 1623.  There are gaps in his career history from 123 to 1637 and 1644 to 1651, but speculations abound.  Ferrari was mainly active in Venice between 1637 and 1644 producing a steady stream of operas for the new commercial theatres.  L'Andromeda, the opera that opened the Teatro S. Cassiano in Venice to the paying public in 1637 is one of his most noted works.   
Serving as instrumentalist and director of court festivities for Emperor Ferdinand III, in 1651 he travelled to Vienna only to return to Modena in March 1653 as appointed court choirmaster and was dismissed for economic reasons in July 1662.  He was reinstated in December of 1674, served until his death and was buried in the church of the Paradiso in Modena.  While he also wrote librettos for other composers, his first three do not differ fundamentally from earlier Roman models.  A majority of his songs, madrigals and arias alike, are composites of recitative and smooth, triple-time aria-like writing; however, his music, except for three books of chamber songs, is now lost.
Benedetto Ferrari