Sfogava con le stelle

Giulio Caccini

Another of the songs in Le nuove musiche that was also set by Monteverdi was Sfogava con le stelle. Caccini’s version is similar in structure to his Perfidissimo volto, with the melody closely following the sense of the words. Monteverdi used a parlando (“speaking”) approach, and retained the homophonic texture even where actual note values are written out, until the phrase O imagini belli del idol mio (“Oh beautiful images of my idol”), where a change to polyphonic treatment throws the lover’s plea to the stars into dramatic contrast.

Monteverdi, Sfogava con le stelle (excerpt)

Caccini, on the other hand, begins the same phrase with a leap to a sustained whole note on the word O, with an abrupt change from minor to major, giving the singer liberty to treat it as she will.

Caccini, Sfogava con le stelle (excerpt)

While Monteverdi’s five singers echo one another as they continue with the lover’s entreaty, Caccini’s version proceeds in monodic fashion from the beginning to the end of the phrase, emphasizing the word ardori (“flames”) with a florid melisma approaching the cadence at the halfway point.

Caccini, Sfogava con le stelle (excerpt)

Both composers now repeat the closing petition la fareste co’l vostro aureo sembiante pietosa (“with your glowing countenance, make her merciful”) several times, Monteverdi by mixing homophonic treatment with some echo effects among various grouped voices, Caccini with ornamentation, particularly on the specific words la fareste ... come me fata (“make her ... as you make me”).

Caccini, Sfogava con le stelle (excerpt)

Perfidissimo volto | Amarilli, mia bella

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