A Comparative Audience Reception Study of Historically Recreated Opera with Reference to Monteverdi's Lamento d'Arianna

This practice-led project explores the passion of grief and the elements of stile rappresentativo (theatrical style) in the performance of early opera recitative. Experimentation with historical acting techniques centres on the analysis and performance of Claudio Monteverdi’s Lamento d’Arianna (Venice and Orvieto, 1623).

L'ariana abandonta

Image: Performance still from L’Arianna abbandonata e gloriosa. Mortlock Chamber State Library of Victoria 25 November 2014, Daniela Kaleva (Arianna), Corinna Di Niro (Dorilla) and Donald Nicolson (harpsichord).

The project is the second case study of the Arianna Project that investigates the impact of historical acting techniques on the performance and reception of early opera and recitative using the famous Lamento d'Arianna with music by Claudio Monteverdi as a locus of experimentation.

Lamento d’Arianna was the climax of the opera L’Arianna (music lost) by poet Ottavio Rinuccini (1562-1621) and composer Claudio Monteverdi (1567-1643). The opera was created at the outset of the operatic genre for the wedding of Francesco IV Gonzaga, Duke of Mantua (1586–1612) and Margaret of Savoy (1589–1655) in 1608. Witness accounts refer to the affective response of the audience with admiration for the composition, the abilities of the musicians and the singers; amongst them a standout performance of the lament by commedia dell’arte actress Virginia Ramponi Andreini, La Florinda (1583-c.1630).

The research is based on performative and qualitative methods and aims to gain more understanding of the elements of stile rappresentativo in modern performance practice and audience reception. It is a collaboration between CI Dr Daniela Kaleva and Donald Nicholson (harpsichord), Corinna Di Niro (actress), Philip Rene van Hout (sound design), Shane Dunn (costume) and Andrei Gostin (lighting and director of photography). Creative practice methods based on archival research, interviews with the artists and reflexive writing contribute to academic discourse the perspective of performance and the performer. An Australian audience will be invited to experience and provide feedback in two post-performance surveys.

Daniela Kaleva uses interdisciplinary and creative practice methods to study visuality and intermediality in vocal concert and theatrical genres. She is an expert in rhetorical gesture and has produced, directed and performed in research-led productions of baroque vocal music.


2021.‘"Lamento d’Arianna": A Transhistorical Study of Staged Emotions and Affective Audience Responses’. In Opera, Emotion, and the Antipodes Volume II: Applied Perspectives: Compositions and Performances, edited by J. W. Davidson, M. Halliwell and  S. Rocke, 137–66. New York: Routledge.

2014. 'Performative Research: A Performance-led Study of 'Lamento d'Arianna' with Historically Informed Rhetorical Gesture' Musicology Australia, Special Issue: 'Music Performance and Performativity', Vol. 36.2, 209–234.