illustrated lecture by John Hoenig



A special event to celebrate the world’s first opera

“Dafne” by Jacopo Peri which premiered in the
Sala delle Muse, Palazzo Corsi-Tornabuoni in 1597

original images and arias of key Florentine works from 1589 to 1625 performed by:

Soprano –  Laura Andreini Laura Andreini
Tiorba – Andrea Benucci

The patrons and composers of the late cinquecento festival events all directly contributed to the future development of opera over the subsequent decades. Tonight’s unique event will focus on the pioneering work of the composers and poets: including Jacopo Peri, Giulio Caccini, Marco da Gagliano and Ottavio Rinuccini – and the designers: Bernardo Buontalenti and Ludovico Cardi detto il Cigoli.

Lavish music-theatre presentations flourished in Florence from the early 15th century in churches, private palazzi and custom-built theatres – but there came a turning point in the late 16th century. The earliest produced opera, as we now know the genre in its continued format, occurred in this Palazzo during Carnevale of 1597 – thanks to its patron Jacopo Corsi.

The common themes of the early operas were mythological allegory – in particular Apollo & Dafne and Orfeo & Euridice. Moving into the first decades of the 17th century, one encounters an intriguing period uniquely distinguished by female patrons of female artists (visual, literary and musical). Significant proponents of this were Medici grand-duchesses Cristina di Lorena and Maria Maddalena d’Austria who supported the singer and composer Francesca Caccini.



John Hoenig was born in London and began his theatre career with the National Theatre at the Old Vic. After moving to Australia, he gained a BDA in Technical Production at the National Institute of Dramatic Art. After many years in Sydney as a lighting designer and stage director, John relocated to Florence in order to study Renaissance art history and develop inter-disciplinary theatrical, musical and art-historical presentations to be staged in authentic locations. John pursues Classical, Mannerist and Baroque research into early musictheatre and opera design and music at museum libraries in Florence & London. He regularly presents guest lectures and produces ephemeral events in conjunction with his colleagues i Buontalenti – in particular having founded the San Giovanni Battista cultural festival in 2012. John was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society for the Arts (FRSA) in recognition of his cultural & philanthropic endeavours. He is a member of Studio Arts College International (SACI) Friends Council. 

Laura Andreini studied at the Music Lyceum F. Petrarca in Arezzo as a pianist. In 2005, after graduating, she attended for two years a course of classical singing at the Royal Conservatory in The Hague, Netherlands. Back in Italy she continued her studies at the Institute of Higher Musical Education Rinaldo Franci in Siena and received her diploma in 2010 with highest honours. She studied from 2012 onwards under the guidance of Luciana Serra to further her technique and interpretation of Bel Canto. She has featured as a soprano soloist in Handel’s Messiah and Dixit Dominus, Mozart’s Requiem and Exsultate Jubilate, the Vivaldi Gloria, Monteverdi’s Vespers of the Blessed Virgin, Orff’s Carmina Burana and The Four Last Songs by Richard Strauss. Operatic roles include Despina in Così Fan Tutte, Serpina in La Serva Padrona, Adina in Elisir d’Amore and Gilda in Rigoletto. She has performed in prestigious concert halls, theatres, museums and festivals in Florence, Rome, Pisa, Livorno, Ravenna, Bellagio, Moscow, Ankara and Mexico. Laura is a permanent member and Soloist of the Cappella Musicale del Duomo di Firenze (Cathedral of Florence).


Born in Florence, Andrea has committed himself for a long time to study lute and plucked instruments, typical of the Renaissance and Baroque period. Under his mentor Gian Luca Lastraioli, he graduated with distinction at the Conservatorio A. Scontrino. He has participated in Master classes with some of the most highlyregarded contemporary lutenists such as Jakob Lindberg, Nigel North and Hopkinson Smith. He has studied historical and classical mandolin with the Masters Davide Rebuffa e Mauro Squillante. Active both as Renaissance solo lutist, theorbo and continuo player, he works with singers and ensembles, specializing in repertoire which extends from the middle-ages to the baroque (including Ensemble San Felice, Musica Perduta and Fanzago Baroque.). He has also taken part in various recordings, in particular: “Scrigno armonico – viaggio nel seicento musicale fiorentino” (recorded with the Choir of Santa Maria degli Angiolini, leaded by Maestro Lastraioli). Andrea is a permanent member of the European Lute Orchestra.