Claudio Monteverdi & Giovan Battista Marino
March 2008 by Tsu-Ching Yu for Professor Francesco Guardiani (ITA301H1S)
"Musica e poesia son due sorelle ristoratrici delle afflitte genti, de' rei pensier le torbide procelle con liete rime a serenar possenti." (L'Adone, VII.1)
Le due Sorelle
La poesia e la musica da Giovan Battista Marino e Claudio Monteverdi
Giovan Battista Marino (1569-1625) and Claudio Monteverdi (1567-1643) were Italian artists whose works span the stylistic bridge from the Renaissance to the Baroque eras. However, Marino is more associated with the Baroque and Monteverdi with the Renaissance. These two artists complement each other in their beliefs of the equal importance of words and music. Marino himself recorded such belief in the first lines of canto vii in his famous Adone, that music and poetry are two sisters who alleviate the afflicted (Calcagno 476):
“Musica e Poesia son due sorelle ristoratrici delle afflitte genti, de’ rei pensier le torbide procelle con liete rime a serenar possenti.” (L’Adone, VII.1)
The relationship of the poetry and the music will be further analysed using two madrigals whose main focus is on the “kiss” composed by Monteverdi setting the poetry of Marino.
Giovan Battista Marino
Giovan Battista Marino, also known as the "Poet of the Five Senses1," was highly respected as the poet laureate of Europe. His school of "Marinismo" is synonymous with the Baroque era. He has written several hundred lyric, amorous, religious, and eulogistic poems, along with La Sampogna (a group of mythological tales), La Galleria (a set on artists and art), La strage degl'iInnocenti (a short religious epic), and his most famous Adone (the love story of Venus and Adonis) (Priest 107). Wright believes that Marino embodied artists' quest for "the richest possible palette of expression" through his eccentric personality and extravagant musical language (505). In his poetry, Marino would digress very often, detailing every physical sense into words such that his version of Adone, for example, was overly embellished to 41,000 lines, even surpassing Shakespeare’s 1200 lines, from Ovid’s original story of about 100 lines (Priest 109). Writers in Marino's time (including Marino) revered the masters of the Renaissance and therefore strived to earn distinction through "ingegno" and "acutezza" - the genius of creativity (Priest 107-8). Of all the devices of classical rhetoric used, metaphor was Marino's main style. He abhorred the commonplace and the unimaginative and fought them through the use of novelty, ingenuity, and invention to flatter, entertain, and glorify royalty and the court life (Priest 111). One way he would astonish is through epigrammatic twists and imagery of novel combinations2 of subjects (commonplace objects and ideas) and bring out the less distinctive characteristics of them (Priest 108, Tonlinson 575). The central goal of his art is to instill the sense of surprise in his readers (Tomlinson 575), to add novelty, and to have them marvel at his poetry (Calcagno 474). The musicality of his verse is driven by intellectual virtuosity rather than the mimesis of the emotions (Hanning 9).
Claudio Monteverdi, a distinguished composer of madrigals, church music, and early opera, was a master at representing a variety of human emotions and passions through the vivid rhetorical structure of music, by creating very expressive harmonies and even reformed the recitative3 such that it became more perceptible (Grout 309, Hanning 7, Tomlinson 566). He is considered a late-Renaissance composer whose music had many innovative features that laid the groundwork for the development of the nascent Baroque style. One such development is his famous stile concitato of rapid repeated notes to express agitation or anger that very much resembles actual speech (Tomlinson 586, Wikipedia). It was in his "Il sesto libro de' madrigali" (1614) that Monteverdi first set Giovan Battista Marino's poetry to music. At this time, Monteverdi had recently moved to Venice from Mantua. Being in Venice was extremely beneficial for Monteverdi because it was an ideal alternative to the court due to a lively and varied cultural environment as well as freedom from autocratic rule. Additionally, the Venitian printing presses and public theatres helped to contribute to the cultural production and consumption of all classes that was once only available to the privileged (Chiarelli 53). This allowed Monteverdi to present his work to a boarder audience, both of the court and non-court and his lack of dedication for his sixth book of madrigals (he did not have a single family of patrons), kept his options open for any opportunities that may come to him (Chiarelli 54-5). Setting to music the poetry of old masters such as Petrarch as well as contemporary poets such as Marino, Chiarelli believes, was a way for Monteverdi to prove his knowledge of tradition as well as his versatility and adaptability of new trends and applicability to a wider audience (62).
Music of their time
It was largely Humanism4 that converted the Renaissance views of music as a mathematical science to an art filled with rhetorical eloquence and power. Humanists believed that language challenges the intellect whereas music only charms the senses and hence setting the proper relation of music to language became very important (Hanning 2). By imitating nature and appropriating its meaning through words, the senses would be able to comprehend the emotions being conveyed through music (Hanning 11). Two stylistic revolutions occurred, one of sense and harmony. Sense, according to Hanning is defined by the relationship between words and sounds, and harmony as the relationship between sounds and music. Each birthed the polyphonic madrigal in the 1530s and the dramatic monody (solo song) respectively (2). The first generation of Italian madrigal composers set Petrarch's verses in 1530s (Davey 89). These new polyphonic madrigals contrasted from the previous musical settings of formal metrically regular stanzas of patterned rhythms and symmetrical tunes because the verses, such as that of the Petrarchisti, had varied and flexible rhythmic structures and sounds that matched the content (Hanning 3). To further complicate and challenge the musical limits, matching poetic structure and syntax of five-part polyphony vocal texture was then extended to six and seven parts as time progressed (Davey 89). However, there are limitations to polyphony. The development of monody in the 17th century, and further the form of stile recitativo5, was due to the inability of polyphony to imitate speech, whether broken, irregular, of violent outcries, or of passion (Hanning 6, Chiarelli 57). Composers such as Gesualdo of the Mannerism era, a period between the Renaissance and Baroque of the 16th century, used oxymora and antitheses musically over formal coherence through the use of extreme chromaticism. It was Gesualdo’s continued use of incoherence overstatements, instability, and passionate expressiveness made him a bridge to the Baroque era (Hanning 13-4). The Baroque era saw the vocal texture greatly reduced to at most three voice parts with accompaniment (Davey 89). In addition, the use of the basso continuo freed the voice from sustaining a musical fabric and also made music more independent of the poetry (Davey 92).
Claudio Monteverdi coined the term “seconda pratica” to contrast from the musical practice of polyphonists, who believed in a strict mathematical formulation and examination of contrapuntal harmonies and valued music above all else. This seconda pratica or “stile moderno” is the focus of the words as the master over music and the breakaway from the limiting rules of the former, also known as the “prima pratica” (Wright 508, Hanning 7, Tomlinson 565, Wikipedia). Free from restrictive rules, the emotions of the texts could be expressed with a wider range of musical sonorities through the liberation of dissonance (Grout 297). Wright described the musical stylistic changes as "exaggerated" because the harmonies were free to roam with dissonances as easily as with consonances, and that composers of this new style incorporate a vast range of musical devices that invoke the listeners’ emotional reactions and pull on the heartstrings (509). Another new device used extensively in this time was the basso continuo that refers to a specific form of figured bass, giving singers absolute freedom of textual expression minus the constrains of a notated score (Wright 516, Wikipedia). Not only was a new style established but also the freedom of alternating text to fit the musical structure. Monteverdi was not afraid to break the syntactic structure of a poetic text in his pursuit of innovative ways of expressing the inherent emotional essence of that text in his musical settings. According to Davey, Monteverdi's interference/modification of text through distortion of structure poetically resulted in a satisfying duet for Marino's "Presso un fiume" as opposed to Marino's original alternation of the two lovers (92-3).
In terms of performing the music of the seconda pratica, some concerns Wright expressed regarding some of Marino's pieces include figuring out the alignment of the text to the notes as well as with the bass, determining whether the ornamentation written out were all intentional due to their very dissonant nature, the mastery of the singers in tackling difficult embellishments, and what exactly to play in the bass continuo (512).
Marriage of poetry and music
Monteverdi set Marino's poems as "concertato" madrigals, where the instruments and voices are "sounded together" (Davey 92). The reason that Monteverdi selected Marino in his sixth book of madrigals is not only because Marino was one of the most famous and popular poets at that time but also because both artists shared the same beliefs of using tradition as an inspiration to be used in the present and that through imitation of nature, art, and its products, one can one potentially be led anywhere. Hence, using Marino's text brought together Mantuan tradition and Venetian modernity (Chiarelli 61-2). Marino’s poetry has been frequently set to music that Davey lists five of his most popular poems that have been set fifty-seven times by different composers including Monteverdi: 'Tornate, o cari baci', 'Eccomi pronta', 'Vorrei baciarti', 'Perchè fuggi', and 'Presso un fiume' (90-1). The first four are poetic madrigals on the subject of the kiss and the last one is a song of a dialogue between two lovers. We will discuss the first two below.
The touching of lips, kissing, is an extremely strong physical expression and one of the most important ways of showing love and affection in much of the world (Wikipedia). It can be used in so many contexts such as in a greeting or farewell, a way of showing respect with friends and family members, and also passionately in a romantic sense, expressing sexual desire.
Tornate, o cari baci
Tornate, o cari baci
Return, o dear kisses,
Tornate, o cari baci is found in Monteverdi’s “Seventh Book of Madrigals” (1619) dedicated to the wife of his former patron, the Duchess of Mantua Catherine de’ Medici. Elements of playful, fugal demands; homophonic rhythms; repetition; the use of key change; chromaticism; syncopation; and jazzy entrances; are words that Wright used to describe this madrigal (510). The rhyming scheme of this poem is abbccddee. This madrigal is written for two tenors singing of their yearning for kisses as if these kisses will feed their starving hearts, and with each kiss, sighs are tasted. Their insatiability for these kisses is typical Baroque excess: nothing is quite enough and more is needed urgently. They are each engulfed in their own emotions, the second tenor constantly echoing the first and vice versa. The two voices sing in the same range such that the amorous sentiment of the text is emphasized in how their voices entwine. Since the poetry is quite short, Monteverdi found a way of extending the musical setting, explains Davey, through the use of a motivic interplay as the word "baci" is displayed repeatedly and related to the syncopation of the word "tornate" (98). This repetitiveness of phrases gives a sense of their constant renewal of vow, each giving to the other, pleasing each other, as if the voices are making love to each other. The musical form of the madrigal is ABA. The first A section, opens in G major and briefly modulates to the dominant of D major suggesting a positive expectation, that their requests will be answered. Monteverdi has both singers repeat the word “tornate” right at the beginning to highlight the impetuousness of the desire for more kisses. In the B section the two voices break apart. The voice that sings “pascete i miei famelici desiri” maintains his phrases in the C major key while the other voice switches between the “a minor” and “d minor” reflecting the not so happy text of languish and bitter sweetness. As the ending of the B section approaches, both singers come back together to sing how each other satisfied their ravenous desires (both singing in C major) and they modulate back to the home key in preparation for the return of the A section. The return of A sees the return of the G major key with flirtations with “a minor” as the “sighs” of these kisses are being expressed.
Eccomi, pronta ai baci
Eccomi pronta ai baci;
Here I am, ready for kisses;
This madrigal is found in Monteverdi's "Settimo libro de' madrigali" and is set as a vocal trio of two tenors and a bass. The rhyming scheme of this poem is ababccadd and the musical form is again in ABA. The word "baciami" is repeated staggered over and over in a rising sequence indicating the Cinzia's excitement and anticipation of Ergasto's kiss (Davey 99). She requests that he not bite her, as this will reveal her shame; however, after he betrays her, she angrily swears to die rather than kiss him again (Ossi 176). The focus of the madrigal is not the actual kiss but the reaction to the kiss and Monteverdi exploits the musical dynamics as to stretch and exaggerate the humourous situation turning this romance into a parody (Ossi 177-8). By separating Marino's poem preceding "Eccomi, pronta ai baci," Monteveri made it seem as if Cinzia initiated the pursuing and even instigates him to bite her (Ossi 189). This poem according to Ossi contains Marino's use of argutezza or wit (191). Further repetition of the word "baci" 26 times in the last section mimics the sound of voracious biting (Ossi 193-5). Monteverdi has enriched the poem by adding layers of psychology (Ossi 200). Both A sections feature contrapuntal writing that is typical of the Renaissance style, whereas in the B section, more contemporary features of a “one dominant” voice with a more homophonic accompaniment. Notice that her warning is only repeated once suggesting that Cinzia is not really serious about what she is saying. The surprise of the “ahi" and the sudden use of the “d minor” sonority at bar 54, where the tenor sings an “f natural” gives a nice shocking effect. The last phase of “possa io morir se più ti bacio mai” is very repetitious and especially the last four bars on the word “mai” exaggerates her reaction to his biting to the extreme as if his biting gives her the license to throw a tantrum. Ergasto has responded to her by disobeying her and her response is all in good fun!
1 Marino, who focused on the world of sensory experience, earned this title through the dedication of 5,000 lines in Adone to describe each of the five senses: eye, nose, ear, mouth, and touch (Tomlinson 572, Priest 110).
2 An example used by Priest to illustrate a unique combination is from Marino's Adone (XVIII.152) where rubies are used as a metaphor for drops of blood, creating a sense of richness and preciousness (108).
3 Recitative is a style of delivery that imitates the rhythms of ordinary speech and is usually followed by an aria or ensemble (Wikipedia).
4 Originating in Florence in the 14th century, this intellectual movement grew from the rediscovery of many Latin and Greek texts containing grammar, rhetoric, poetry, moral philosophy and history through classical authors (Wikipedia).
5 Intoned speech that reflects the words of the text in pitch and rhythm, used for imitating the accents of passion, an "imitation of speech in song" (Hanning 6-7, 12).
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Giovanni Rigatti - Bacia Lidio Gentile
Alessandro Grandi - O chiome errant, o chiome
Alessandro Grandi - Rose beate
Sigismondo d' India - Dialogo della rosa
Pietro Melii - Preludo detto Lestensis for theorbo
Francesco Turini - Questemeste querelle
Claudio Saracini - Tornate, o cari baci
Claudio Monteverdi - Tornate, o cari baci
Claudio Saracini - Tu parti, anima mia
Sigismondo d'India - Tu parti, ahi lasso
Sigismondo d'India - Donna vorrei dir molto
Sigismondo d'India - Piange Madonna
Girolamo Frescobaldi Toccata VII
Martino Pesenti - Ardo, ma non ardisco
Claudio Monteverdi - Eccomi pronta ai baci
Sigismondo d'India - Torna dunque, deh torna
Girolamo Frescobaldi - Partite sopra l'aria di Ruggiero
Sigismondo d'India - Ardo, lassa, o non ardo
Claudio Monteverdi - Ogni amante e' guerrier
Marino and Music © Concert
Artistic Director: Elisabeth Wright
Paul Elliott, Alan Bennett, Tenors Ray Nurse, Bass and Theorbo Elisabeth Wright, Harpsichord
I. Giovanni Rigatti, Bacia Lidio Gentile
Alessandro Grandi, O chiome errant, o chiome
Alessandro Grandi, rose beate
Sigismondo d’India, Dialogo della rosa
II. Pietro Melii, Preludo detto “Lestensis” for theorbo
Francesco Turini, Questte meste querelle (Alan Bennett)
III. Claudio Saracini, Tornate, o cari baci (Paul Elliott)
Claudio Monteverdi, Tornate, o cari baci
IV. Claudio Saracini, Tu parti, anima mia (Paul Elliott)
Sigismondo d’India, Tu parti, ahi lasso (Paul Elliott)
Sigismondo d’India, Donna vorrei dir molto (Alan Bennett)
Sigismondo d’India, Piange Madonna (Paul Elliott)
V. Girolamo Frescobaldi Toccata VII, bk II for harpsichord
Martino Pesenti Ardo, ma non ardisco
VI. Claudio Monteverdi, Eccomi pronta ai baci (Bennett, Elliott, Nurse)
VII. Sigismondo d’India, Torna dunque, deh torna (Paul Elliot)
VIII. Girolamo Frescobaldi, Partite sopra l’aria di Ruggiero for hapsichord
IX. Sigismondo d’India, Ardo, lassa, o non ardo
X. Claudio Monteverdi, Ogni amante è guerrier
Elisabeth Wright, Artistic director, Harpsichordist. Acclaimed for her versatility as soloist, chamber musician and accompanist on harpsichord and fortepiano, Elisabeth Wright has appeared in such noted festivals as Mostly Mozart Boston Early Music; Luthansa in London, Tage alter Musik, Regensberg; Aston Magna; Vancouver Early Music; Santa Fe Chamber Music ; the Festival dei Sarceni, Pamparato; and the Sydney Festival in Australia. She performs with violinist Stanley Ritchie as DUO GEMINIANI and as a member of LES SONATISTES, the SEATTLE CONCERT, and TRIO DES NATIONS. A frequent guest on National Public Radio’s “t. Paul Sunday Morning,” she has been broadcast on three continents and has recorded for Classic Masters, Focus and Musical Heritage. Her recent recordings include solo works of Frescobaldi, music from the court of Louis XV on original instruments from The Shrine to Music Museum, and J. S. Bach’s sonatas for flute and harpsichord with Kim Pineda for Focus. On the faculty of Indiana University’s Early Music Institute in Bloomington since 1982, Professor Wright has taught and lectured a the Vancouver Baroque Workshop, the Aston Magna Academy, and given masterclasses around the world, frequently addressing performance practice in 17th century music. An expert in basso continuo improvisation, Ms. Wright performed at the 1993 Boston Early Music Festival in Andrew Parrott’s production of Monteverdi’s “L’Orfeo,” a chamber concert and a featured solo recital – “engaging, rhapsodic works played with fleet technique, imagination and boldness... stunning Frescobaldi played with unflagging command!” (Boston Globe). Presently on the board of Early Music America, Ms. Wright was a founding member of the Seattle Early Music Guild and Bloomington Early Music Associates.
Alan Bennett, Tenor. Alan Bennett is a native of North Carolina and received his bachelor of Music in Voice and master of Music in Choral Conducting degrees from the University of North Carolina in Greensboro. He is currently completing his doctoral studies at Indiana University in voice performance where he has studied early music performance practice with Paul Elliott. He has studied with Charles Lynam, and the late Norman Farrow and has participated in masterclasses and/or coached with Martin Katz, Daniel Pinkham, Alan Curtis, Leonard Hokanson, Hermann Prey and Robert Shaw. As a member and soloist with the Robert Shaw Festival Singers he spent three summers touring France and has recoreded on the Telarc label. His diverse repertoire centers around oratorio including Bach’s Evangelist roles, concert performances and art-song recitals. He has appeared in the Messiah in Washington D.C., Israel in Egypt with the ORATORIO SOCIETY OF NEW YORK, the St Matthew Passion in Chicago, the Christmas Oratorio with BALTIMORE CHORAL ARTS SOCIETY and the 92nd street Y’s annual “Schubertiade.” He has performed at the Berkeley Bach Festival with BLOOMINGTON BAROQUE under the direction of Stanley Ritchie, in France in Mozart’s Vespers and numerous recitals featuring repertoire from the Medieval to the Contemporary, including a world premiere of a piece composed by Cary Boyce. As early music specialist, he has appeared with THEATRE OF VOICES and was featured soloist in the Marino and Music concerts held in Toronto and Bloomington.
Paul Elliott, Tenor. Paul Eliott has featured on over eighty recordings in music ranging from Perotin to Weber. He is best known for his performance of early music, having concertized with nearly every major European early music group including the ANCIENT ACADEMY OF MUSIC, THE EARLY MUSIC CONSORT OF LONDON, THE LONDON EARLY MUSIC GROUP, MUSICA ANTIQUA KOLN, the DELLER CONSORT and THE HILLIARD ENSEMBLE of which he is a founding member. Besides his ensemble activities, Paul Elliott is well known as a soloist having twice recorded Handel’s Messiah in which work he was also featured in the celebrated video recorded in Westminster Abbey with Christopher Hogwood conducting. He also appears in videos made for the television series music in Time hosted by James Galway. Elliott’s solo debut in the United States was with Christopher Hogwood and the Los Angeles philharmonic in a performance of the Messiah at the Hollywood Bowl in 1982. Engagements have included multiple performances of Monteverdi’s Vespers in Germany, Bach’s St Matthew Passion in Holland and Belgium and concerts at summer festivals in Ferrara, Barcelona and Nantes. His latest solo recording on the Koch label is of music of John Dowland and a recording of Orlando Lassus’ St Matthew passion on the Harmonia Mundi label. Professor of Music at the Early Music Institute at Indiana University in Bloomington, he is in high demand as a teacher giving frequent master classes and participating as faculty/artist at workshops such as the Vancouver Early Music Festival in Canada and Amherst Early Music in Massachusetts. He was a featured soloist in the Marino and Music concerts in Toronto and Bloomington.
Ray Nurse, Theorbo and Bass: Ray Nurse is equally well-known as a versatile performing artist (singer and lutenist), as an accomplished instrument maker, and as a researcher in Renaissance performance practice. He is a central and respected figure in the field of historical performance practice. He is a central and respected figure in the field of historical performance practice and has distinguished himself in particular as a leader of those endeavours in Vancouver, British Columbia, founding member of the NEW WORLD CONSORT OF VANCOUVER and the VANCOUVER CHAMBER CHOIR, he has performed throughout Europe and North America in such prestigious festivals as Utrecht and London Early Music and has appeared in numerous international broadcasts. His extensive research into the construction of early stringed instruments has led him to museums around the world, and the products of his workshop are prized by many eminent professional musicians. He has also been in continuous demand as a teacher and lecturer at workshops such as the Amherst Festival, Vancouver Early Music Festival, and various symposia, and has made important contributions to international lute congresses and conclaves.