TRINITY COLLEGE DUBLIN
9th Biennial Conference on Baroque Music
Sin, Salvation and Divine Grace in the Madrigale Spirituale
of the 16th and Early 17th Centuries
This paper deals with the topics of sin and divine salvation in the
Italian madrigale spirituale of the sixteenth century. In
part one I discuss how the themes of sin, penitence, and grace inspired
many poetic texts, set by madrigalists, with a devotional character.
In these texts different poetic and ideological traditions converge,
exemplified by such phenomena as: a) the reconsideration of Petrarch's
moral or devotional lyrics in Rerum
vulgarium fragmenta and in I Trionfi, in accordance with
the new Counter-Reformation doctrine; b) the imitation or the paraphrasing
of biblical poetry (especially the Psalms) and certain Gospel passages;
c) the use of contrafactum to transform the madrigal from
a secular to a devotional work; and d) the re-elaboration of literary images
and themes of the polyphonic lauda tradition.
In the context of the above-mentioned topics, I also consider the sixteenth-century
production of rime sacre and the Italian translations of the
Psalms. I illustrate the importance of the themes of sin and penitence
in the tradition of poesia spirituale of the sixteenth and
early seventeenth centuries, particularly in the works of Vittoria Colonna,
Bernardo Tasso, Gabriele Fiamma, Angelo Grillo, and Giovan Battista Marino.
In part two of my paper, I comment on a selection of madrigale
spirituale books (Le lagrime del peccatore by Ludovico
Agostini, Le lagrime di San Pietro by Orlando di Lasso, Quattordici
sonetti spirituali di Vittoria Colonna by Pietro Vinci, and Penitenza.
Madrigali spirituali a cinque voci, by Leone Leoni) from the various
angles of religious function, ideological meaning, and the choice of poetry.
In these works, the themes of sin and divine salvation are common to all
of the texts, and indeed form the expressive cores of the books.
Last updated on 21 March 2000 by Yo