- Barbara R. Hanning
(b Florence, Italy, Jan 20, 1562; d Florence, Italy, March 28, 1621). Italian, courtier, author of lyric and dramatic poetry, and the first librettist. He came from a noble Florentine family prominent in cultural and diplomatic circles since the 13th century. His education was presumably that of a courtier – some classical training and enough exposure to the arts to have made him a lively participant in court entertainments in Florence, for which he began writing verses as early as 1579 (Maschere d’Amazzoni). The court chronicler Bastiano de’ Rossi called him ‘a very fine connoisseur’ of music, and the antiquarian scholar Giovanni Battista Doni suggested that Monteverdi relied on him greatly while setting his libretto for Arianna.
Already a member of the Accademia Fiorentina, Rinuccini in 1586 joined another Florentine academy, the Alterati, whose members were particularly interested in dramatic theory and music; he took the name ‘Il Sonnacchioso’ (‘the somnolent one’). There is no evidence to suggest Rinuccini’s participation in Giovanni de’ Bardi’s Camerata, but Bardi (like other musical humanists such as Girolamo Mei and Jacopo Corsi) was also a member of the Accademia degli Alterati and collaborated with Rinuccini on the ...