THE SECRET LOVER
Women in 17th-century Italy
Sunday, January 24, 2021 at 3:00 p.m.
Presented with the generous support of the Tucson Desert Song Festival
Featuring music by and for Italy’s first professional women composers and performers, Jolle Greenleaf, Molly Quinn, and Virginia Kelsey Warnken and their instrumental counterparts bring to life the history of this repertoire.
At a time when women were subservient and little accepted as composers and performers, they were writing and singing unforgettably sensuous and expressive music. The concerto delle donne, an all-female ensemble established by the Duke of Ferrara to perform in secret to a select circle of nobles, excelled at the late Renaissance ideal of sprezzatura—the artful performance of highly difficult music with apparent ease. Their gifts inspired composers to write extraordinarily florid and virtuosic music for them. Among the most important women composers of the time were Barbara Strozzi, Francesca Caccini, Antonia Bembo, Isabella Leonarda, and Chiara Margarita Cozzolani. Whether composing and performing for court or convent, they enriched the musical life of their time and of ours.
“The music had casually florid, poised performers…whose voices, delicate individually, rose to more than the sum of their parts in richness and eloquence when combined. Trading off the verses in ‘L’Amante Segreto’ by Barbara Strozzi, a groundbreaking female composer from the tail end of the concerto delle donne period, they gave a sense of both this repertory’s restraint and its freedom.”
—The New York Times