FRANCESCO RASI, BELLEROFONTE CASTALDI, G.A. PANDOLFI MEALLI,
BARTOLOMEO TROMBONCINO & ALESSANDRO STRADELLA
“Se ria sorte pur mi condanna a soffrir morte”
If adverse Fate condemns me to suffer even death...
L’Anima Oscura is a journey through the works of some of the most remarkable composers of the Italian XVII Century, in search of the subtle connection between love and death, suffering and insanity.
Baroque composers and poets frequently compared the pains of love to death, not only as the highest form of suffering, but also as the ultimate solution to the unbearable “sickness” of love unrequited, forbidden, or ruptured either by worldly circumstances or by death itself. Seventeenth-century Italian music centered on this topic is characterized by highly poetical images and figures, together with a rhetorical musical practice aimed not only at portraying the both delicacy and intensity of love's emotions, but also provoking such feelings in the listeners, inciting within them the same affects as those intended to be expressed by the musicians.
Within this aesthetic environment, it is a striking that some of these same composers who so vividly invoked death through their art also had direct and often dramatic experiences with death, with some even being driven to the heinous urgency of murder, and others themselves being murdered. Investigating the music of such composers, we have decided to seek out the dark soul, L’Anima Oscura, of these very sensitive or tormented musicians that lived in under the shadow of death's brutality, including several murderers – Francesco Rasi, Bellerofonte Castaldi, Giovanni Antonio Pandolfi Mealli, and from the Renaissance Bartolomeo Tromboncino – and two murdered composers, Ignazio Albertini and Alessandro Stradella.
Further inspiration for this program came from an engraving included in Joan Valverde de Amusco's Treatise of Anatomy (Rome, 1556), in which a man is drawn as having flayed off his own skin in order to show the raw interior of his body. Metaphorically speaking, this could be seen as peeling away the mortal body to expose the soul within. Similarly, in the creation of music composers can discard the “skin” of mundane communication and use the sublimity of art in order to express their troubled inner souls.