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Siete qui: Home Festival Festival 2009 The music of the most principal dames...
The music of the most principal dames... PDF Print E-mail

«... they begin singing at seven p.m. and continue until nine, the organist (Luzzaschi) with his harpsichord, Mr. Fiorino with the big lute, Mrs. Livia with the viola, Mrs. Guirina with a lute and Mrs. Laura with the harp ... they sing then a score that needs more musicians: a bass singer and two other voices, singers of the Serenissimo.» (Girolamo Merenda: History of Ferrara, 1596)

The Concerto of Dames was an authentic event and the testimonies are numerous. The most popular trio was made up by Laura Peperara, Anna Guarini, daughter of Battista Guarini, and Livia D’Arco, and was born thanks to an idea of Margherita Gonzaga, sister of Vincenzo, Duke of Mantua, married in third wedding to the Duke in 1597. We know how there had already been several years before a Concerto of Dames, similar in its nature but not in its intentions (Luzzasco playing the cembalo as accompanist of the sisters Lucrezia and Isabella Bendidio), but this first kind of Concerto was destined to be forgotten in a few years, put aside because of the Trio wanted by Margherita.

The three Dames accompanied their singing using the harp, the lute and the viola, under the musical guide of canto Ippolito Fiorini and Luzzaschi («...Mrs. Anna Guirina sung and played the lute, Mrs. Laura the harp and Mrs. Livia recently began playing the viola, her teachers were Mr. Fiorino, Kapellmeister of the Serenissimo, and Mr. Luzasco, organist of the Serenissimo»). Their voice, their beauty, their skill have inspired more than one poetical composition: Tasso, Guarini, Arlotti, Grillo, Rinuccini have left us numerous written testimonies about these musical events (the two books of madrigals Il Lauro secco and Il Lauro Verde, published in 1592 and 1593 by the Renewed Academics, dedicated to the name of Laura Peperara and put to music by different composers, such as Ingegneri, Striggio, Vecchi, Wert, Marenzio, and the cited Fiorino and Luzzaschi, are a significant example). Of the impressive quantity of music played by the dames during their concerts («... these, never praised enough, dames of Ferrara, have sung more than three hundred thirty madrigals by heart...» - Giovanni Bardi: Discorso... a Giulio Caccini, 1590) only Luzzaschi’s extraordinary score Madrigals for 1, 2, 3 sopranos, published in 1601 has been conserved up to today («among the most rare marvels possessed by the court of Duke Alfonso, my Sire, rare and et original in everyone’s opinion was the music sung by the most principal Dames; ... still after the death of the Duke, this music has not been played anymore, still I desire to make it alive again, bringing to the light of the world my Madrigals, that were composed by me and sung by those elevated dames» Luzzaschi: introduction to his Madrigals to sing and play for one, and two, and three sopranos, 1601).

These compositions show us how during the Concerto of Dames ornate singing was very popular. As testifies a letter written by Duke Alfonso: «To Mr. Luzzasco Luzzaschi... S. A. S. has seen what V. S. has written for her... but has decided that V. S. must write the book in the same form of the Songs you have written for those Dames...» (Minuta Ducale, 11 May 1594).

Again Alessandro Striggio narrates how «... Every day the Duke... made me hear a part of his concert of dames that is extremely rare... The duke was very pleased of showing me continuously all of the scores these dames were able to perform by heart, with all their difficulties and virtuoso passages....» (A. Striggio, 29 July 1584). Again Striggio testifies: «This morning I have received a letter…in which, because of an order of V. A. Serenissima I shall put to music a few madrigals for three diminished sopranos...». «I sent fifteen days ago to V. A Serenissima a four part madrigal for three diminished sopranos… But before I went away from Mantova, I composed a Dialogue for two diminished sopranos...» (A. Striggio, 1584). And the same Gesualdo seems to have written a few madrigals for the Dames: «... having (Gesualdo) composed five or six madrigals full of artifice, a motet, an aria and a dialogue arranged for three sopranos, I think, for these dames...» (Alfonso Fontanelli, 1594).

(Presentation abstract from the booklet of the Cd Glossa de La Venexiana – Fifth book of the Madrigals by Luzzaschi)