Early Italian Baroque opera (ca. 1600-ca. 1770) was drama-oriented; Monteverdi and the composers of the Camerata emphasized diction and gesture or acting in the portrayal of characters. Singers such as Anna Renzi were praised for their interpretive skills as much as for their singing. The anonymous treatise Il corago (ca. 1630) gives detailed instructions on acting in opera. Although later Italian opera moved toward the concert on stage, writers and critics remained enthusiastic in their emphasis on dramatic interpretation and became ever more critical in their assessment of current performance practices (Francesco Algarotti, Giovanni Antonio Bianchi, Pier Francesco Tosi, and Giambattista Mancini, among others.)
"The Role of Diction and Gesture in Italian Baroque opera,"
Performance Practice Review:
2, Article 7.
Available at: http://scholarship.claremont.edu/ppr/vol6/iss2/7