Musica Secreta - Brancaccio and the sensuous-virtuosic art of the Three Ladies of Ferrara

Brancaccio and the sensuous-virtuosic art of the Three Ladies of Ferrara

Photo: Laurence Traiger; May 2019

Photo: Laurence Traiger; May 2019

Giulio Cesare Brancaccio was not only a famous soldier and courtier, he was also one of the most famous basses of the 16th century. With a vast range of almost three octaves and an expressive, cultivated voice, he inspired poets of the stature of Tasso and Guarini to poetic hymns praising his art.

The Three Ladies of Ferrara were active at the court of Duke Alfonso d'Este (1533–1597). They sang so virtuosically and sensuously that the Duke kept them almost exclusively for invited guests to sing in small circles: in "Secreta". Their fame, however, spread throughout Italy and beyond. Today they are prized as some of the first professional female singers - and instrumentalists - of the late Renaissance.

During the 1570-80s Brancaccio, born in Naples, and the Three Ladies formed a famous ensemble. Important composers such as Luzascho Luzzaschi, Giaches de Wert, or Luca Marenzio payed them hommage in works that brought their special gifts to life.

In this Ensemble Phoenix Munich concert Brancaccio and the three ladies find themselves together again, after 400 years! Like the historical ensemble, all of the ladies and Brancaccio himself, play instruments and sing. The art of self-accompaniment unites singer and player and offers the best opportunity for music and text, indeed the whole presentation of the song, to move the listener to his soul.

The Concert – A Journey to the mystery of the Musica Secreta

Depending on the hall and the wish of the presenter, the concert begins "in Secreta": The public is divided and moves from one secret place to the next hearing each of the ladies and Branccacio (Joel Frederiksen) speak about themselves and sing. In the second part of the program the public meets in the main hall to hear madrigals from the whole group and more solos/duos/ and trios from Naples and Ferrara.

Performers: Giovanna Baviera — Soprano and Viola da Gamba / Sabine Lutzenberger — Soprano and Recorder / Tanja Vogrin — Mezzo and Baroque Harp / Giovanni Cantarini — Tenor and Lute / Joel Frederiksen — Bass and Archlute / Michael Eberth — Harpsichord

Joel Frederiksenen-it