Claudio Monteverdi (1567-1643).

Claudio Monteverdi was, undoubtly, the most important composer in the first half of the 17th century. Monteverdi was born in Cremona, and there he acquired his musical training, as a choir boy in his homelandís cathedral choir, during boyhood, becoming then an accomplished violinist and organ player, and at the age of 16 he published his first book of madrigals. He then entered the service of the Duque of Mantua as a violin player, and in this quality he accompanied the Duque in his military incursions, and in Florence he gained contact with the first opera creations, that had been going on sinse the 1580's.

Indeed, the great merit of Monteverdy was the fact that he settled and consolidated the main pillars of opera composition that have, thoroughly, remained up to our days. In the first florentine operas in the late 1500's there still was not an efficient modelling of the characters portrayed, and what Monteverdi does in his operas is that he masters this psychological construction, enhancing the overall result of the complete artistic product that opera is, a complete and total spectacle, no merely a "assemblage" of music and theatre. Monteverdi's first master-piece creation pf the sort as "L'Orfeo", from 1607, but his novelty and inventivity culminate with "Il Ritorno d'Ulisse in Patria, and later on with "L'incoronazzione di Poppea", where  the poetical writing of the libreto is subjugated by he lyrical and emotional intensity of the music.

Yet, the gender in which madrigal most worked was the madrigalesque one. The "madrigal" was a vocal gender original from the renaissance Italy, that usually was of amorous thematic. These madrigals were also characterized by the expressiveness of the music, and some were a good pretext to create small operatic scenes. Monteverdi published eight collections of Madrigals, ant a ninth one, posthumously, in 1651. Monteverdi's madrigals standout by it's expressive writing, being that it varied very little from the writing applied by Monteverdi to his operas and, in fact, his most outstanding madrigals are the scenic ones, like "Il Combatimento di Tancredi e Clorinda" 

In the sacred music field, Monteverdi is mostly remembered by his Vespers of 1610, or 2Vespero della Beata Virgine", premiered in St Marks Church in Venice, and there we find both Monteverdi's grandeur of opera, and the delicacy of his madrigals.

Claudio Monteverdi: Dixit Dominus (Selva Morale e Spirituale)

Claudio Monteverdi: Duo Seraphim

                                     

The first edition of "L'Orfeo"                    The autograph  of the "Lamendo d'Arianna"                         The autograph of the "Incoronazzione di Popea"

 

Reccomended recordings:

Opera:

L'Incoronazione di Poppea: Cencentus musicus Wien, Nicolaus Harnoncourt, Teledec.

L'Orfeo: idem.

Il Ritorno d'Ulisse in Patria: idem.

 

Vespers:

Vespro della Beata Virgina: The Monteverdi Choir, The London Oratory Junior Choir, The English Baroque Solists, The English Baroque Solists, John Eliot Gardiner, Arvhiv.

 

Madrigals:

Il ottavo libro de madrigali (1638): The consort of Musicke, Virgin Veritas / Concerto Italiano, Rinaldo Alessandrini, em dois volumes (completo), Opus 111.

Il sesto libro de madrigali: Concerto Italiano, Rinaldo Alessandrini, ArcanaMadr

"Madrigali Erotici"(from several books): The Consort of Musicke,  L'Oiseau-Lyre.

 

  

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