Madrigal comedy

Madrigal comedy

Discussion
Ask a question about 'Madrigal comedy'
Start a new discussion about 'Madrigal comedy'
Answer questions from other users
Full Discussion Forum
 
Encyclopedia
Madrigal comedy is a term for a kind of entertainment music of the late 16th century in Italy
Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

, in which groups of related, generally a cappella
A cappella
A cappella music is specifically solo or group singing without instrumental sound, or a piece intended to be performed in this way. It is the opposite of cantata, which is accompanied singing. A cappella was originally intended to differentiate between Renaissance polyphony and Baroque concertato...

madrigals
Madrigal (music)
A madrigal is a secular vocal music composition, usually a partsong, of the Renaissance and early Baroque eras. Traditionally, polyphonic madrigals are unaccompanied; the number of voices varies from two to eight, and most frequently from three to six....

 were sung consecutively, generally telling a story, and sometimes having a loose dramatic plot. It is an important element in the origins of opera
Origins of Opera
The word "opera" means "work" in Italian suggesting that it combines the arts of solo and choral singing, declamation, acting and dancing in a staged spectacle...

. The term is of 20th century origin, popularised by Alfred Einstein.

The first collection of madrigals, sung as a set and telling a coherent (and highly comic) story, was Il cicalamento delle donne al bucato (the gossip of women in the laundry), by Alessandro Striggio
Alessandro Striggio
Alessandro Striggio was an Italian composer, instrumentalist and diplomat of the Renaissance. He composed numerous madrigals as well as dramatic music, and by combining the two, became the inventor of madrigal comedy...

, which was written in 1567. Later madrigal comedies are sometimes divided into acts, including a prologue, and while not "acted" in the sense of an opera, they may have been performed on stage with elaborate painted backdrops (for example, there is an existing woodcut showing the prologue of Orazio Vecchi's
Orazio Vecchi
Orazio Vecchi was an Italian composer of the late Renaissance. He is most famous for his madrigal comedies, particularly L'Amfiparnaso.- Life :...

 L'Amfiparnaso (1597): a singer is evidently in costume in a backdrop showing a city street). Vecchi's direction in the score, however, is for the singers not to act, but for the audience to fill in the action internally, using their imagination. He speaks to the audience in the prologue to the work: "the spectacle I speak of is to be seen in your mind; it enters not through your eyes, but through your ears: instead of looking, listen, and be silent."

The form was popular especially in the 1590s and few years after 1600, only in Italy, but seems to have fallen out of favor with the advent of opera right at 1600, although a cappella madrigals were also disappearing at this time as well. The music of madrigal comedies is light, and the subject matter was invariably comic.

Principal composers of madrigal comedy included Alessandro Striggio
Alessandro Striggio
Alessandro Striggio was an Italian composer, instrumentalist and diplomat of the Renaissance. He composed numerous madrigals as well as dramatic music, and by combining the two, became the inventor of madrigal comedy...

, Adriano Banchieri
Adriano Banchieri
Adriano Banchieri was an Italian composer, music theorist, organist and poet of the late Renaissance and early Baroque eras. He founded the Accademia dei Floridi in Bologna.-Biography:...

, Giovanni Croce
Giovanni Croce
Giovanni Croce was an Italian composer of the late Renaissance, of the Venetian School...

, and Orazio Vecchi
Orazio Vecchi
Orazio Vecchi was an Italian composer of the late Renaissance. He is most famous for his madrigal comedies, particularly L'Amfiparnaso.- Life :...

.