musica secreta

Ut Pictura Musica: Physical Gesture in the Madrigal Repertory of the Ferrarese Concerto delle Donne

In a 1628 retrospective, Discorso sopra la musica, Italian writer and art curator Vincenzo Giustiniani documents musica secreta performances by the Ferrarese concerto delle donne

“…they accompanied the music and the sentiment with appropriate facial expressions, glances and gestures, with no awkward movements of the mouth or hands or body which might not express the feeling of the song.” 

This ensemble project is structured around the Ferrarese concerto delle donne - the first fully professional group of singers, based at the Este court in Ferrara in the 1580s. Based on my own research into physical gesture as employed by the three ladies of Ferrara, this multi-sensory project features mannerist madrigals by Luzzasco Luzzaschi from his 1601 collection Madrigali per cantare e sonare per uno e doi e tre soprani.

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