Barbara Strozzi was an Italian composer and performer during the seventeenth century. Between the years 1644 and 1664 she published eight volumes of vocal music. In these publications Strozzi most frequently wrote for solo soprano and basso continuo. Six of these volumes include only secular vocal music including vocal styles such as madrigals, ariettas, arias, and cantatas for solo voice. One cantata in particular, L’amante Segreto: Voglio Morire, was part of her second collection of secular vocal works composed in 1651. Each cantata included in this collection has a title that succinctly expresses the meaning and emotion of the poem the music is set to. This specific cantata, Voglio Morire, is an example of the combined use of first and second practice counterpoint with multiple vocal styles. Evolution of musical form in the seventeenth century was inevitable, and this cantata is an example of the musical advancements being made during this time.
The initial impression from the text of Barbara Strozzi’s cantata L’amante Segreto: Voglio Morire is of sadness and shame. The vocalist sings throughout the song of her unhappiness and longing for death. She hides a disgraceful secret, and all through the duration of the piece she elaborates on these emotions. The author of this text, like many other authors of texts from Strozzi composed for, was unknown. There was a clear distinction between open narration and formal lyricism observed throughout the text of this cantata. When the affect of the text needed it, the syllabic speech style of the cantata grew into a more dramatic and melismatic style.
The performing resources for this cantata were a solo soprano vocalist accompanied by basso continuo. The published score contained only the simplest version of the singers melody. It was the performers responsibility to add in ornamentations and trills to decorate the melody line. Similarly, the accompanist, playing the basso continuo part was required to...
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