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CHAPTER 28 THE LATER MADRIGAL IN FERRARA AND MANTUA: GESUALDO AND MONTEVERDI VOGUE OF THE ITALIAN MADRIGAL • More than a thousand individual collections, each containing about twenty madrigals, were published between 1530 and 1620. Some Italian madrigals were even printed with Italian texts outside of Italy, specifically in German-speaking lands, England, Denmark, and the Low Countries. Thus the madrigal became the first genre of Italian music to be exported around Europe, as opera and the concerto would be during the seventeenth century. THE MADRIGAL IN FERRARA • The northern Italian city-state of Ferrara was an important center for music throughout the Renaissance. During the sixteenth century two northerners, Adrian Willaert and Cipiano de Rore, and a native Italian, Nicola Vicentino, achieved prominence there as composers and, in Vicentino’s case, as a music theorist as well. All three undertook far-reaching experiments in tonal harmony, tuning, and temperaments. The beginning of Cipriano de Rore’s motet Calami sonum ferentes demonstrates the type of tonal experiments in which the Ferrarese composers were engaged in the middle of the sixteenth century. When the bass enters with the chromatically rising line (mm. 8-10) it creates chords built on E, F F#, G and A in immediate succession—a harmonically daring sequence. Nicola Vicentino invented an instrument he called the arcicembalo which possess not two rows of keys, as on all other keyboards, but six. This allowed him to achieve slight microtonal differences between pitches and recreate the three genera of ancient Greek music. Such experiments were typical of the musical humanists of the Renaissance. THE CONCERTO DELLE DONNE • The concerto delle donne (ensemble of ladies) that appeared at the court of Ferrara in the last decades of the sixteenth century was the first specifically all-female vocal ensemble established at a court. The concerto consisted of three and sometimes four virtuosos who specialized in singing difficult madrigals sometimes a cappella, sometimes with the support of a male tenor or bass, and sometimes to their own instrumental accompaniment. The excellence of their singing impressed visitors and soon similar all-female vocal groups could be heard in Rome, Florence, and Mantua, as well as Ferrara. The beginning of Luzzasco Luzzaschi’s madrigal O docessze amarissime d’amore (O sweet bitterness of love). Luzzaschi (c15451607) was a composer resident in Ferrara from the 1560s onward. With its three demanding parts for soprano (and optional keyboard accompaniment), this madrigal was a vocal showcase for the concerto delle donne. MUSICA SECRETA • The concerto delle donne did not perform for the full court, but only for the ducal family and a very few important guests. The music for such concerts went by the name musica secreta (secret music). At other courts this progressive private music was called musica reservata (see Chapter 24). The progressive compositions of Rore and Luzzaschi (see Slides 28.3 and 28.5), with their sometimes intense chromaticism and extremes of rhythmic values, are representative of the musica secreta performed at the court of Ferrara. CARLO GESUALDO • Carlo Gesualdo (1561-1613), murderer and megalomaniac, is one of the most bizarre characters in the history of music. A member of the nobility from the area of Naples, in 1590 Gesualdo put to death his wife and her lover. He withdrew from the public eye and into a world of music, only to resurface during the years 15941596 at the court of Ferrara. In all, Gesualdo published seven volumes of madrigals, and three of motets, as well as other religious works in Latin. GESUALDO’S MADRIGAL STYLE • Gesualdo’s is among the most progressive, even radical, music of the late sixteenth century. He employs extreme chromaticism, disjunct textures, and widely disparate rhythmic values to create a type of madrigal that is unsettling, sometimes shocking. Gesualdo’s madrigals are not for the average, amateur singer, for they place great demands on the vocal skill and especially the ear of the performer who must enter with just the right pitch into a sea of dissonance or harmonic change. So progressive is the harmony in some of Gesualdo’s madrigals that they seem “atonal”—to lack a clear tonal center. MUSIC IN MANTUA: ISABELLA D’ESTE • Mantua was a Renaissance city-state in northern Italy roughly midway between Milan and Venice. During the sixteenth century it was ruled by the Gonzaga family, and the foremost artistic patron among them was Isabella d’Este (1474-1539, marquise of Mantua). Isabella was very much a humanist. She studied classical Latin poetry, collected Greek and Roman sculpture, and commissioned paintings from Mantegna, Titan, and da Vinci. She also wrote poetry, sang, and played harpsichord, clavichord, lira da braccio, lute, viol, and vihuela de mano (Spanish guitar). Isabella d’Este in a portrait that she commissioned from Leonardo da Vinci Isabella was a great patron of both musicians and artists. CLAUDIO MONTEVERDI • Among the musicians employed at the court of Mantua at the turn of the seventeenth century was Claudio Monteverdi (1567-1643). Monteverdi is important in the history of music as a seminal practitioner of the late madrigal, as one of the first to compose operas, and as one of the leaders in the formation of a late-style madrigal called the concerted madrigal. He worked in Mantua from 1591-1613 and then in Venice from 1613 until his death in 1643. In all, Monteverdi published nine books of madrigals, the first in 1587 and the last, posthumously, in 1651. THE ARTUSI-MONTEVERDI CONTROVERSY • Giovanni Maria Artusi (c1540-1613) was a churchman and conservative music theorist. In a publication of 1600, Delle imperfettioni della moderna musica (On the Imperfections of Modern Music), he criticized Monteverdi for the “mistakes” and “errors” contained in his madrigal Cruda Amaralli. Monteverdi replied to Artusi in 1605 and again in 1607, declaring these “errors” to be momentary diversions from commonplace contrapuntal practice necessitated by an especially vivid word or phrase of text. THE SECONDA PRATICA • Monteverdi said that the “harmony (music) must be the servant of the words”—musical considerations must take a back seat to the emotional content of the text. Monteverdi called this text-driven approach to music the seconda pratica. He distinguished it from the older, more conservative prima pratica, in which composers often followed the rules of counterpoint regardless of the text. The preface to the fifth book of madrigals by Claudio Monteverdi, in which the composer defends his text-driven approach to the madrigal, referring to it in capital letters as SECONDA PRATICA. Monteverdi places Cruda Amarilli as the first madrigal in the collection, something of an “in your face” response to the music theorist Artusi. MONTEVERDI’S CRUDA AMARILLA • Although it had been written and performed many years earlier, Monteverdi’s five-voice Cruda Amarilla appeared in his fifth book of madrigals printed in 1605. The score shows that all of Monteverdi’s “errors” occur at particularly intense or biting words in the text. Two passages from Monteverdi’s Cruda Amarilli In the first the soprano jumps in with a second against the bass on the words “ahi lasso” (“ouch alas”) and in the second the top three voices jump to a seventh above the bass on the word “Aspido” (“wasp”). Both such jumps violate the commonly accepted rules of Renaissance counterpoint. THE LATE MADRIGAL: A PROGENITOR OF OPERA • The increasing intense, personal expression of the late madrigal, especially when it emphasized solo singing prefigured the appearance of the aria and recitative in seventeenth-century Baroque opera. Toward the end of the sixteenth century the progressive madrigal became so vocally demanding that professional singers were needed to perform it. This resulted in a separation between highly skilled, solo performers and a non-participating, generally aristocratic audience, a division that set the stage for early Baroque opera.