Amorosetto fiore (Maddalena Casulana)

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  • (Posted 2022-08-28)  CPDL #70561:         
Editor: Emma Shelby (submitted 2022-08-28).   Score information: A4, 4 pages, 72 kB   Copyright: CPDL
Edition notes: “Amorosetto fiore” is a complete, additional madrigal from Book I, which came to light after the 1979 Pescerelli edition of Maddalena Casulana’s works: the ones known to be complete at the time. The transcription of this madrigal was nearly infallible from the original, due to the lack of printing errors and the high quality of the 1567 publication. However, several changes were made in order to accommodate printing abbreviations, modern notation differences, and the Italian text.
First off, a change in part names was warranted. Originally, they were listed as canto, alto, tenore, and basso (SATB); however, based off the original clefs (C1, C1, C3, and C4) it was more appropriate to use the following vocal lines: soprano 1, soprano 2, alto, and tenor (S1 S2 A T). Due to this alteration in part lines, the C3 line was converted to the modern treble clef and the C4 line was converted to the transposing treble (rather than bass clef).
While no major changes were made to the musical notation itself, several conversions needed to be established. For one, because this piece was in imperfect mode, two breves to the longa rest length were used (perfect mode uses three breves to the long). Second, the printed notation “3” signified that the ensuing three notes were fit into two beats of their original value. The “3” notation was inconsistently omitted near the end of some of the partbooks every other triplet, most likely to conserve ink, so these notations were reestablished in the final transcription.

General Information

Title: Amorosetto fiore
Composer: Maddalena Casulana
Number of voices: 4vv   Voicing: SATB
Genre: SecularMadrigal

Language: Italian
Instruments: A cappella

First published: 1567 in Terzo libro del desiderio. Madrigali a quattro voci (Giulio Bonagiunta), no. 8
Description: Maddalena Casulana published “Amorosetto fiore”, a madrigal for four voices, within book three of Il Desiderio. Published in Venice in 1567, its four unedited parts are now available online through the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris; such parts were used for this transcription of the madrigal.

This short yet lovely madrigal was written in the mode of Hypodorian and consists of four vocal lines: canto, alto, tenor, and basso. These four vocal parts are typical of the Italian madrigals of the time, however Maddalena Casulana did not appear to use traditional SATB ranges. Instead, the higher and more delicate pitches give the piece a dual soprano, alto, and tenor persona. These vocal lines and persona were then beautifully paired with the madrigal poem itself, which consists of eleven lines total.
The Hypodorian mode of this piece is evident due to several of its key musical characteristics. For one, the D final within the basso vocal line evidently points to modes 1 and 2; this final is then supported by the (original C3) tenor range of F# - a, which exemplifies the more lowered range found within Hypodorian (mode 2) as compared to Dorian.
The mode is further evident due to Casulana’s elegantly-crafted cadences. After transcribing the four unedited parts of “Amorosetto fiore,” it became evident that most of the cadences landed on notes A and D (such as those found in mm. 9, 29, 43, and 47). These notes emphasize both the final and the fifth of the Hypodorian mode. The characteristic fourths and fifths of this piece also support such a cadential sonority and Hypodorian mode; they are most notable at the beginning through m. 14.
The theoretical aspects of “Amorosetto fiore” are amicably paired with the madrigal poem itself, and through a series of word-painting motifs the poem is essentially brought to life. For example, in mm. 9-10 the notes are drawn out and increased in length in order to emphasize the pleading tonality of the word “Prega” or “Ask”. A second example is found in mm. 30-31, where Casulana builds upwards in pitch and shortens the note lengths in order to underscore the compelling nature of the “luci sante” or “blessed eyes” figure. The most notable example, however, is found in m. 48 through the end. Here, the last line of the poem is repeated twice and accompanied by unison, recurrent notes that are relatively monotone in pitch and phrasing. This heavily emphasizes the “E poi godi felic’il suo bel seno” line, which translates to “And then happily enjoy her fair bosom”, insinuating that “her fair bosom” are heavily enjoyed or fondled for a significant period of time by the narrator of the poem.
Overall, “Amorosetto fiore” is a short yet dramatically romantic madrigal that accurately demonstrates the musical prose and expertise of Maddalena Casulana.

External websites:

Original text and translations

Revised translation provided by Morell, Martin. 2022.

Italian.png Italian text

Amorosetto fiore,
Che’l bel sen toccherai de la mia diva,
Prega lei che si priva
Piu non sia di pietad’e cortesia,
Ma che benigna e pia
Si mostri con un suo fedel amante.
E che le luci sante
Rivolga più soavi e gratiose
Verso le lagrimose mie
Che vengon homai pel pianger meno,
E poi godi felic’il suo bel seno.

English.png English text

Alluring little flower,
That will touch the fair bosom of my goddess,
Ask her that she no longer
Be bereft of compassion and courtesy,
But that she show herself favorable and charitable
To one who is her steadfast lover.
And that she turn her blessed eyes
More sweetly and graciously
Toward my tearful ones
Which are wasting away from lamentation,
And then happily enjoy her fair bosom.