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His­to­ri­ans be­lieve that the first opera was Ja­copo Peri’s

Dafne, com­posed in 1597 for a cir­cle of hu­man­ists in Florence, Italy. Peri fol­lowed this early ef­fort with

Euridice (1600), which is the ear­li­est work with a sur­viv­ing score. Opera buffs may know Mon­teverdi’s

Or­feo (1607), the only work among the ear­li­est three that is still regularly staged. But what about opera on this side of the At­lantic? At 2 p.m. on Satur­day, Aug. 8, scholar and for­mer pro­ducer and di­rec­tor of Baroque-pe­riod op­eras, James Mid­dle­ton, will speak about the begin­nings of opera in the New World, at the New Mexico History Mu­seum (113 Lin­coln Ave., 505-476-5200). The first opera writ­ten and per­formed in the Amer­i­cas was La Púr­pura de la Rosa (The Blood of the Rose), which pre­miered in Lima, Peru, in 1701. It was com­posed by Tomás de Tor­re­jón y Ve­lasco, af­ter a text by the Golden Age Span­ish writer Pe­dro Calderón de la Barca, and tells the story of Venus and Ado­nis, from Greek mythol­ogy. A decade later, in 1711, New Spain’s cap­i­tal, Mexico City, saw its first opera, Manuel de Zu­maya’s La Parténope. The opera’s story, in­volv­ing Partenope, the Queen of Naples, was top­i­cal in Mexico in the early 1700s be­cause the King­dom of Naples was con­tested in the War of the Span­ish Suc­ces­sion (17011714), when Spain’s royal fam­ily changed from the Hab­s­burgs to the Bour­bons, who still rule in Madrid. There is no charge for the lec­ture, which is en­ti­tled “Never Be­fore Seen Here: Baroque Stage­craft in the Span­ish New World.” — Khris­taan D. Vil­lela

Paolo Veronese’s Venus and Ado­nis, circa 1580; fron­tispiece from

the orig­i­nal score of La Púr­pura de la Rosa

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