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To Henry from Florence with Love – Renaissance Motets and Madrigals

The King has moved his court to Hunsdon for fear of catching the “sweating sickness” and only a few servants and members of the household remain behind. Two young Wards stumble upon a mysterious basket that holds music books that in all likelihood were a gift to Henry from the republic of Florence by ambassador Francesco Portinari as they play in the library. They summon the Keeper of the King’s Library who knows exactly what to do – gather the household and sing from them!

San Francisco Renaissance Voices (Katherine McKee, Music Director) is delighted to present a rare performance of madrigals from this collection of Italian masterpieces, sent as a gift to Henry VIII from Florence, Italy, a five-volume set of madrigal and motet partbooks that were assembled in Florence and sent as a gift or “musical embassy”to the English court in the late 1520’s. Our stellar singers will be joined by actors Twila Ehmcke, Allison Newman, and Ryan Newman, dancer Irenie Melin-Gompper, and Matthew Xie, plucked instruments, for this very special costumed production, which will also include English and Spanish pieces from the late 15th and early 16th centuries. The performance of these rarely heard works of the pieces from the Florentine part books is made possible through the kind permission of The University of Chicago Press.

Our singers for this production are:
Daniel Harper as The Chief Baker
Katherine McKee as Keeper of the King’s Library
Naomi Braun as The Nurse
Colby Roberts as Friar Dionysius Memmo
Dan Stanley as The Steward of the Silver and Venetian Glass
Nick Volkert as The Master of the Horse

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Mad Madrigals

Before opera, there was the madrigal comedy: unstaged but dramatic collections of short vocal pieces which, when sung consecutively, told a story. This program includes Adriano Banchieri’s lighthearted and entertaining Contrappunto Bestiale, along with a wide range of madrigals by Monteverdi, Morley, Strozzi and others.  Choir accompanied by continuo (harpsichord, theorbo, baroque cello).

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