Francesca Caccini was certainly an exceptional woman. Not only was she a ‘diva’ of the Baroque world who had the voice ‘of a nightingale’, but she was also a lutenist, poet, and the first ever female to compose a full-scale opera (La liberazione di Ruggiero). She first rose to fame at just thirteen years old when she performed in scenes of Peri’s Euridice to widespread acclaim, earning the nickname ‘La Cecchina’ (Little Francesca) by which she would be known for the rest of her life.
The songs in this collection would more than likely have been performed by La Cecchina herself at the Medici court, where she was employed as a musician, and many are representative of her florid style of composition; Caccini was known to be meticulous in the notation of her works, ensuring that each emphasis, syllable and melisma fell in exactly the right place. Fluid melisma and ornamentation are indeed characteristics of the works O vive rose, Non so se quel sorriso and Ch’Amor sia nudo, with those of the latter offset by lilting dance rhythms in the accompaniment. However, these are a stark contrast to the penitent Maria, dolce Maria, and pensive Dov’io credea. A highlight of the recording is undoubtedly Lasciatemi qui solo, a dramatic jewel, in which a lamenting vocal line and false relation in the accompaniment are joined by a mournful, singing theorbo part. These songs are just a glimpse of the skill and versatility of this special composer.
Soprano Elena Cecchi Fedi has performed in concert halls and festivals throughout Europe and has made several recordings. She is joined by the critically-acclaimed lutenist and theorbist Gian Luca Lastraioli, whose career has allowed him to appear in some of the most prestigious performance venues around the world, and who directs the Cappella di Santa Maria degli Angiolini on this recording.
- New recording (2012), Conservatorio di Santa Maria degli Angeli, Florence.
- Featuring the celebrated Italian soprano Elena Cecchi Fedi, accompanied by a colourful and rich instrumental group featuring cittern, theorbo, viola da gamba, guitars and strings.
- Vocal pieces transcribed and revised for the recording by Gian Luca Lastraioli, with the instrumental pieces and ritornelli arranged by Luigi Cozzolino.
- Francesca Caccini (daughter of the male composer with the same name) was a remarkable composer, singer, lutenist and poet in the Italian Baroque, serving at the prestigious court of the Medicis. She was a celebrated soprano, wrote a full scale opera (the first ever written by a woman) and excelled in her own works.
- This recording features sacred and secular songs, music of deep emotional impact, dealing with the joys and sorrows of earthly and heavenly love.
- The booklet contains liner notes, lyrics and artist biographies.