Peri, Jacopo, significant Italian composer, called “II Zazzerino” for his abundant head of hair; b. Rome, Aug. 20, 1561; d. Florence, Aug. 12, 1633. He was descended from a noble Florentine family. At an early age he went to Florence, where he entered the convent of Ss. Annunziata in 1573 and became a singer; also studied music with Cristofano Malvezzi. He was organist at the Badia (1579–1605) and a singer at S. Giovanni Battista (by 1586). He entered the service of the Medici court of Grand Duke Ferdinando I (1588), and was also in the service of the Mantuan court (from the early 1600s). The Florentine Camerata met at the home of Count Giovanni de’ Bardi in the 1580s, and it is likely that Peri participated in its activities. As early as 1583 he collaborated with other composers in writing music for the intermedi to Giovanni Fedini’s dramatic comedy Le due Persilie. In the 1590s the home of Jacopo Corsi became the meeting place for many Florentine musicians, poets, and philosophers, and Peri undoubtedly attended, for Corsi collaborated with him in setting Ottavio Rinuccini’s pastoral Dafne to music. The first known performance of this work was a private one in Florence in 1598. Later versions were given in 1599,1600, and 1605. Dafne is generally recognized as the first opera in monodie style (i.e., vocal Soloists supported by instruments), which was termed stile rappresentativo. Peri’s next opera was Euridice, again to a text by Rinuccini; some of the music was rewritten by Caccini for the first performance, which was given for the wedding of Maria de’ Medici and Henri IV of France at the Palazzo Pitti in Florence (Oct. 6, 1600). He composed the opera Tetide (libretto by Cini) for Mantua in 1608, but it was not performed. His next opera, Adone (libretto by Cicognini), was finished by 1611; a performance scheduled for Mantua in 1620 never took place. Another work of the period, La liberazione di Tirreno e d’Arnea (Florence, Feb. 6, 1617), may be by Peri; it is also possible that he collaborated with M. da Gagliano on the score, or it may be totally the work of Gagliano. Peri collaborated with Marco da Gagliano on the opera Lo sposalizio di Medoro e Angelica. It was given in honor of the election of Emperor Ferdinand III at the Palazzo Pitti on Sept. 25, 1619. He also composed the role of Clori for the opera La Flora, the remainder of the music being by Gagliano. It was first performed in honor of the wedding of Margherita de’ Medici and Duke Odoardo Farnese of Parma at the Palazzo Pitti on Oct. 14,1628. Peri also collaborated with Gagliano on 3 oratorios, La benedittione di Jacob (Florence, Sept. 23,1622), II gran natale di Christo salvator nostro (Florence, Dec. 27, 1622), and La celeste guida, o vero L’Arcangelo Raffaello (Florence, Jan. 5, 1624), but these works are not extant. In addition to individual songs pubi, in various collections of the time, he also brought out La varie musiche...for 1 to 3 Voices, con alcune spirituali in ultimo, per cantare, harpsichord, chitarrone, ancora la maggior parte di esse per sonare semplicemente, organ (Florence, 1609; 2nd ed., 1619).
G. Corazzini, J. P. e la sua famiglia (Florence, 1895); F. Ghisi, Alle fonti della monodia: Due nuove brani della ’Dafne’ (Milan, 1940); T. Carter, J. P. (1561–1633): His Life and Works (diss., Univ. of Birmingham, 1980).
—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire