Friday, April 23, 2010

Francesca Caccini

Medicean Music and Francesca Caccini:
Virtuosa to the Medici

Thursday, April 22, 6:00 pm
Mechanics' Institute

Kip Cranna, Director of Music Administration (SF Opera)
Richard Savino, Archlute, chitarrone, baroque guitar (CSU Sacramento)
Ann Moss, Soprano
William Skeen, Viola da gamba

Reception at Rangoni Firenze ShoesYesterday I attended this satellite event for next week's Humanities West symposium on the Medici. Perhaps 30 or 40 of us were fitted rather awkwardly into a meeting room in the Mechanics' Institute building for a lecture/demonstration of the music of Francesca Caccini, a singer & composer working in the Medici court in the early 1600s. Among other accomplishments, she is the first woman to write a published opera, La liberazione, in 1625. There is tantalizingly little documentation about her later life, & even the date of her death is doubtful.

Kip Cranna of the SF Opera set the musical context, & Richard Savino gave us an overview of Francesca Caccini's life, stuffed with many facts from his research. Finally, Ann Moss sang 4 of Caccini's published songs, accompanied by William Skeen on viola da gamba & Mr. Savino on lute & guitar. The songs are about heaving, unrequited love & include a lot of vocal ornamentation, precisely notated by the composer. It was a treat to hear the songs in this small setting, as they were originally intended to be presented. Mr. Savino had a lot of trouble keeping his instruments in tune in that close room. Even though he warned us to stop breathing, one song had to be restarted in order for him to re-tune.

Rangoni Firenze Shoes hosted a pre-event reception in their shop. We had prosecco, cheese, fruit & tiramisu amidst fancy Italian shoes & handbags, though one attendee's lime-green Fluevogs seemed to garner more attention.

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