Rappresentatione di anima et di corpo

Dialogue of Soul and Body

Emilio de' Cavalieri

27 Jan, 24

Artistic direction: Lionel Meunier | Concept, set design and video: Emilie Lauwers | Vox Luminis

First performed in 1600, Rappresentazione di anima etdi corpo is, for some, the first Baroque oratorio ever composed. The libretto describes an allegorical dialogue between the Soul and the Body about the renunciation of material pleasures and spiritual salvation. It also involves characters such as Prudence, Conscience, Time, the Intellect, the World, Worldly Life and the Guardian Angel, among others. This staged version is brought to the Real by the famous Belgian choral group Vox Luminis.

Here is a work that could make everything we think we know about the origins of opera blow up in smoke. Whereas the manuals insist on Monteverdi’s Orfeo as the origin of the genre, the Roman Emilio de’ Cavalieri offers us a story about the birth of opera. Composer, organist, diplomat, choreographer, and dancer, Cavalieri served the great Fernando I de Médici as his overseer and master of ceremonies for art, wardrobe, celebrations, theatre and music, organizing a variety of festivities at his court which were a decade ahead of the essential features of opera.

Premiered in 1600, Rappresentatione di Anima et di Corpo appears in books as the « first oratorio in history», although its dramaturgy and score – which include a multitude of characters, dances and choral numbers– call for a mise-en-scene with the same urgency as titles of the future would: Handel’s oratorio Il trionfo del Tempo e del Disinganno, for example. The crystal-clear clarity of the Belgian vocal ensemble Vox Luminis demonstrates that, despite its moral lesson, this dramma per musica is not a Sunday sermon, but rather a stimulating and sensitive internal journey full of surprises.

Opera in a prologue and three acts

Music by Emilio de' Cavalieri (1550-1602)

Libretto by Agostino Manni

Premiere at the Oratorio de Santa María de Vallicella (Rome) in February 1600

Premiere at the Teatro Real 

Semi-staged concert version

Artistic Team

Artistic direction: Lionel Meunier

Concept, set design and video: Emilie Lauwers

Video: Mario Melo Costa

Lighting design: Luc Schaltin

Lighting and video technician: Ben Vanslembrouck


Anima: Stefanie True

Corpo and Tempo: Raffaele Giordani

Consiglio and Mondo: Massimo Lombardi

Inteletto: André Pérez Muíño

Piacere: Jan Kullmann

Two companions: Roberto Rilievi, Guglielmo Buonsanti

Vita mondana: Estelle Lefort

Anima dannata: Hugo Oliveira

Anima benedetta: Zsuzsi Tóth

Vox Luminis


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27 January 2024


Main Auditorium

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