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Monteverdi: Madrigals of War and Love, “I burn, I rage”

Can you guess this piece? Here’s a hint: Fiery passions burn in Italy…

One of Monteverdi’s most ambitious works was his 8th book of madrigals, the Madrigals of War and Love. His artistic intention was to compose music reflecting the “three essential passions” of the soul: anger, temperance, and humility. As music, according to Monteverdi, had never expressed anger, he set himself the task of expressing this passion using the appropriate mode of musical expression, which he called the “agitated style.” The first group of madrigals is dominated by the Combat of Tancredi and Clorinda, more of a full-on musical drama than a madrigal. The piece is based upon Tasso’s epic poem “Jerusalem Delivered” and describes the tragic duel in which a Crusader mortally wounds an enemy, only to fall in love with his dying opponent upon realizing that he had fought against a woman. Inspired by the two opposing choir lofts of the San Marco church in Venice, Monteverdi further accentuates the drama by having two opposing ensembles duke it out on stage!

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