Barbara Strozzi was the adopted daughter of the librettist and poet Giulio Strozzi. She grew up surrounded by intellectuals in Giulio’s Venetian group, the Academy of the Unknowns. Once he discovered that Barbara exhibited musical talent, he formed a subset of the group, the Academy of the Likeminded, in which he allowed Barbara to preside over, singing and suggesting topics for group discussion.
Barbara was declared a virtuoso by 15, and Giulio did his best to publicize her throughout his circles in Venice and do everything he could to cultivate her talent. He even wrote many texts himself, and then worked to get the accompanying music dedicated to her. He also arranged for her to study with Francesco Cavalli. In addition to being a celebrated singer, Barbara Strozzi also composed. Some scholars even say she may have even originated the cantata form in Italy!