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Love, Lust and Lamentations: Prologue

Claudio Monteverdi (b. 1567 - d. 1643)

Maria Keohane

Maria Keohane

Composer
Claudio Monteverdi (b. 1567 - d. 1643)
Composition Year
1567-1643
Work Movements
Claudio Monteverdi [1567-1643] Lamento d’Arianna
Alessandro Piccinini [1566-1638] Romanesca [excerpt]
Sigismondo d’India [1582-1629] Piangono al pianger mio
Barbara Strozzi [1619-1677] Amor non dormire
Monteverdi - Amor from Lamento della Ninfa
Artists
Mike Fentross [chitarrone], Maria Keohane [soprano]

Programme Note Writer:
© Kate Hearne

Lasciatemi morire, Let me die.. Arianna’s opening plea in her lament over lost love fittingly sets the scene for our mini dramaturgy.  Indulgence in woe and self pity were all the rage in the 17th century, and this, coupled with an obsession with sex and lust led to a powerful output of love songs from Northern Italy. Lamento d’Arianna was originally part of a lavish, tragic opera premiered by Monteverdi at the Mantuan court of Duke Vicenzo Gonzaga in 1608. Sadly all that remains of it are a few copies of Rinuccini’s libretto and a small segment of the opera, the famous Lamento d’Arianna, which Monteverdi published as a separate entity in 1623 viewing it as one of the most important milestones in his stylistic development.

The Lament takes the form of an extended recitative for voice and continuo, depicting Arianna’s tortured reaction when she discovers she has been abandoned on the island of Naxos by her lover, Tèseo. Its range and depth of expression can be likened to that of some of Shakespeare’s soliloquies. The opening repeated words Lasciatemi morire, are accompanied by an unforgettable and piercing dominant seventh chord, underlying Arianna’s despair and pain at being abandoned. In stark contrast to this, Arianna’s longing words O Tèseo, O Tèseo mio, occur several times throughout the Lament, indicating that despite everything, she still feels tenderness towards her lover. It is Monteverdi’s ability to reflect Arianna’s wildly shifting emotions and contradictory feelings that have insured this Lament’s survival and given Arianna herself the reputation as the first great operatic heroine.

The serene Romanesca by Piccinini gives us some breathing space and a moment to dwell on the story thus far. In the early 17th century, the terms chitarrone, theorbo and archlute were interchangable. Developed from the bass lute, the chitarrone, with its set of long open bass strings was the perfect instrument to accompany the voice. Piccinini came from a family of virtuoso lute players and composers and he was one of the few to successfully combine playing with writing for the instrument. In his first volume of lute music, Intavolatura di Liuto et di Chitarrone, libro primo (Bologna, 1623), he gives a detailed description of some modifications to the chitarrone while also laying claim to his having invented the archlute in 1594.

D’India’s simple, reflective lament Piangono al pianger mio conveys an outpouring of grief where the world around is weeping and sighing together with our protagonist, who is full of self pity. D’India was a composer of great versatility, he travelled widely and his output includes works in all the vocal styles of the time. In this setting of Rinuccini’s text, he shows his ability to convey drama in a beautiful and understated manner.

It is time for Cupid to awaken, for love to once more flourish. Strozzi lightens the mood from the outset of Amor dormiglione in her humorous call to Cupid. She is ready for love and impatient for something to happen. The expectant mood is exquisitely expressed by Strozzi, who rose to the forefront of madrigal writing in Venice after Monteverdi’s death. As a woman, Strozzi breaks away from all the traditions of her time. The daughter of a courtesan, and possibly working as a courtesan herself, she embodies the new model of Venice, which, as the 17th century progressed, was fast becoming Europe’s pleasure city. Strozzi defies many of the strict social rules and expectations of women in the 17th century and although this song is flirtatious and mocking, her other works suggest that she was no stranger to pain and grief inflicted by love. 

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Love, Lust and Lamentations: Prologue

Composer: Claudio Monteverdi (b. 1567 - d. 1643)
Performance date: Tuesday 30th June 2015
Venue: St. Brendan's Church, Bantry, Co Cork, Ireland

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Composer Claudio Monteverdi (b. 1567 - d. 1643)
Work Title Love, Lust and Lamentations: Prologue
Composition Year 1567-1643
Work Movements Claudio Monteverdi [1567-1643] Lamento d’Arianna
Alessandro Piccinini [1566-1638] Romanesca [excerpt]
Sigismondo d’India [1582-1629] Piangono al pianger mio
Barbara Strozzi [1619-1677] Amor non dormire
Monteverdi - Amor from Lamento della Ninfa
Language Italian
Artist(s) Mike Fentross [chitarrone], Maria Keohane [soprano]
Performance Date Tuesday 30th June 2015
Performance Venue St. Brendan's Church, Bantry, Co Cork, Ireland
Event Coffee Concert
Duration 00:19:32
Recording Engineer Richard McCullough, RTÉ lyric fm
Instrumentation Category Duo
Instrumentation S-solo, chitne
Programme Note Writer © Kate Hearne

Lasciatemi morire, Let me die.. Arianna’s opening plea in her lament over lost love fittingly sets the scene for our mini dramaturgy.  Indulgence in woe and self pity were all the rage in the 17th century, and this, coupled with an obsession with sex and lust led to a powerful output of love songs from Northern Italy. Lamento d’Arianna was originally part of a lavish, tragic opera premiered by Monteverdi at the Mantuan court of Duke Vicenzo Gonzaga in 1608. Sadly all that remains of it are a few copies of Rinuccini’s libretto and a small segment of the opera, the famous Lamento d’Arianna, which Monteverdi published as a separate entity in 1623 viewing it as one of the most important milestones in his stylistic development.

The Lament takes the form of an extended recitative for voice and continuo, depicting Arianna’s tortured reaction when she discovers she has been abandoned on the island of Naxos by her lover, Tèseo. Its range and depth of expression can be likened to that of some of Shakespeare’s soliloquies. The opening repeated words Lasciatemi morire, are accompanied by an unforgettable and piercing dominant seventh chord, underlying Arianna’s despair and pain at being abandoned. In stark contrast to this, Arianna’s longing words O Tèseo, O Tèseo mio, occur several times throughout the Lament, indicating that despite everything, she still feels tenderness towards her lover. It is Monteverdi’s ability to reflect Arianna’s wildly shifting emotions and contradictory feelings that have insured this Lament’s survival and given Arianna herself the reputation as the first great operatic heroine.

The serene Romanesca by Piccinini gives us some breathing space and a moment to dwell on the story thus far. In the early 17th century, the terms chitarrone, theorbo and archlute were interchangable. Developed from the bass lute, the chitarrone, with its set of long open bass strings was the perfect instrument to accompany the voice. Piccinini came from a family of virtuoso lute players and composers and he was one of the few to successfully combine playing with writing for the instrument. In his first volume of lute music, Intavolatura di Liuto et di Chitarrone, libro primo (Bologna, 1623), he gives a detailed description of some modifications to the chitarrone while also laying claim to his having invented the archlute in 1594.

D’India’s simple, reflective lament Piangono al pianger mio conveys an outpouring of grief where the world around is weeping and sighing together with our protagonist, who is full of self pity. D’India was a composer of great versatility, he travelled widely and his output includes works in all the vocal styles of the time. In this setting of Rinuccini’s text, he shows his ability to convey drama in a beautiful and understated manner.

It is time for Cupid to awaken, for love to once more flourish. Strozzi lightens the mood from the outset of Amor dormiglione in her humorous call to Cupid. She is ready for love and impatient for something to happen. The expectant mood is exquisitely expressed by Strozzi, who rose to the forefront of madrigal writing in Venice after Monteverdi’s death. As a woman, Strozzi breaks away from all the traditions of her time. The daughter of a courtesan, and possibly working as a courtesan herself, she embodies the new model of Venice, which, as the 17th century progressed, was fast becoming Europe’s pleasure city. Strozzi defies many of the strict social rules and expectations of women in the 17th century and although this song is flirtatious and mocking, her other works suggest that she was no stranger to pain and grief inflicted by love.