In the 17th century many female composers tried to achieve eternal fame, but only Barbara Strozzi succeeded in gaining – for that time – such a high profile. As a well-known, virtuoso singer, she also wrote her own inventive, creative and sometimes even ambiguous music. Whilst sometimes seemingly timid, at other times her music requires particular technical virtuosity and drama.

Strangely there is historically very little known about Barbara Strozzi. It is the wish of many historians that somewhere there might be letters or diaries kept about this very eccentric person. Many mysteries about her life however remain guesswork. It was for example very unusual that she, being a woman, was a frequent visitor at the gatherings at the ‘Accademie degli incogniti’ (a group of academics and intellectuals whom, motivated by Francesco Loredano, had meetings and can be considered the founders of Opera). But also her private life contains many obscurities and issues. The life of Barbara Strozzi seems filled with mysterious men, connections and lovers. Naturally people try to fill these gaps with all sorts of stories and gossip and so Barbara Strozzi is sometimes described as a courtesan, compared to the Japanese geisha’s of these days. Other times people view her as a hard working mother or an academic artist…

droppedimage


Whatever may be true of these stories, her music transcends this discussion. It was a remarkable accomplishment, being a woman in the patriarchal Venice of the 17th century, to publish 125 pieces of vocal music, every one of them possessing transcendent and timeless beauty!

In this program we highlight several of her lovesongs. All forms, excesses and consequences of love are being addressed in this musical search through her work. Passionate fear, turbulence waking chromaticism and even musical and poetical humour…everything is possible with this very intriguing woman!

Hereby the listener can let his fantasy speak and, as did many historians before them, go back in time. An exciting search for truth, or losing yourself in the most excessive fantasies about a woman of whom so little is known, but about whom so many different intrigues are being spread around…