Home > About Magnificat > Puppets, Nuns, Melodies, and Masterpieces: Magnificat’s 18th Season Takes a Tour of Italy

Puppets, Nuns, Melodies, and Masterpieces: Magnificat’s 18th Season Takes a Tour of Italy


For our 18th Season, Magnificat’s will take our audience on a grand tour through four Italian cities: Florence, Milan, Venice, and Mantua. Along the way, we will hear a delightful puppet opera, a glorious mass for Christmas, a program of madrigals and motets, and perhaps the greatest masterpiece of the early Baroque. The season feature music by two remarkable women and two pioneers of the new music of the seventeenth century.

The notion of constructing a season as a tour of Italy began in a trip I took in the summer of 2008. While in Milan I made a pilgrimage to Cozzolani’s convent, Santa Radegonda, now a multiplex cinema (“Sex in the City” was premiering that day) and wandered around the marvelous Duomo. I also visited Florence, where so many of the radical ideas that shaped the music of the seventeenth century were first articulated. Throughout the journey, I was struck by how strongly the aesthetic of the seicento survives in spite of the noise of the intervening centuries.

So much of what we consider to be “modern” has its roots in the new ideas of the seventeenth century. The Earth went from being the center of the universe to a speck in the midst of an infinite eternity. Artists and poets sought to depict the subtleties of human emotion through jarring contrast and exaggeration. Composers gave us opera, the virtuoso, and art music for the masses. And almost every bold new idea began in the collection of duchies, independent cities, republics, and colonies that we now know collectively as Italy.

Given the 400th anniversary of the great and complex masterpiece of the seicento, Monteverdi’s Vespers of 1610, it seemed like an excellent idea to explore the various strands of the new music of the seventeenth century in the context of four cities: Florence, Milan, Venice, and Mantua. While certainly not a comprehensive list, these cities offer a broad perspective on the many artistic trends that so powerfully shaped the music of the entire continent.

October 18-20, 2009 – Florence: “The Liberation of Ruggiero” by Francesca Caccini
with The Northwest Puppet Theatre

Magnificat welcomes back the Northwest Puppet Theatre for a production of the only surviving opera by Francesca Caccini. The daughter of the father of the nuove musiche of the 17th century, Giulio Caccini, Francesca had a remarkable career in her own right,as a performer and teacher, and, above all, as a highly respected composer for the Granducato of Tuscany.

December 4-6, 2009 – Milan: Christmas Mass by Chiara Margarita Cozzolani.

By popular demand, Magnificat will revisit the music from the remarkable Benedictine nun, Chiara Margarita Cozzolani. In this program, Cozzolani’s setting of the Mass will be performed together with seasonal motets for solo voices and traditional chant.

February 12-14, 2010 – Venice: “Celesti fiori” by Alessandro Grandi

A student of Giovanni Gabrieli, Grandi served as an assistant to Monteverdi at San Marco and was a prolific composer of vocal chamber music in the evolving concerto style of the first qurter of the 17th Century. His unfailing gift for melody and daring use of harmony resulted in initimate and deeply expressive music that speaks across the centuries with clarity and power. Most of the motets and madrigals performed on this program will be modern premieres.

April 23-25, 2010 – Mantua: Vespro della Beata Vergine by Claudio Monteverdi

With his famous Vespers of 1610 Monteverdi, consciously melded the competing styles of old and new that fueled the great musical debate of the new century. Based on ancient psalm tones, the polyphonic settings of the Vespers liturgy offer a kaleidoscopic tour through the new musical styles that were evolving at the time. Magnificat will be joined by The Whole Noyse in these performances.

Details of the season will be available soon on Magnificat’s new website.

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