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Francesca Caccini is denied her freedom by the Grand Duchess Christine de Lorraine

Francesca Caccini is denied her freedom by the Grand Duchess Christine de Lorraine, presented by Donald Macleod.

Francesca Caccini has been hailed as the first female composer to write an opera. However this isn’t necessarily true. The work in question, La Liberazione di Ruggiero dall’isola d’Alcina, was written for the theatre and is almost entirely sung, but academics now believe that this is not an opera. What we do know is that Francesca Caccini was the daughter, sister, wife and mother of a family of singers, and was one of the most prolific composers of her time. She was employed at the Medici court in Florence in the early seventeenth century, and rose to become the highest paid musician on the Medici payroll. This week Donald Macleod explores the life and music of Francesca Caccini and her circle, such as her father Giulio Caccini, and other composers including Jacopo Peri, Lorenzo Allegri, and Marco da Gagliano.

Francesca Caccini’s first husband died in 1626, which left her future and the future of her daughter in a precarious state. She decided to marry again, and this time to a man of property, Tommaso Rafaelli, a minor nobleman of Lucca. Although there was a further child, this time a son, the marriage only lasted a short time as her second husband died in 1630. Francesca Caccini was now a woman of some property, and she lobbied the Medici court to relinquish any rights of custody to her daughter Margherita. As Francesca was employed by the Medici when her daughter was born, with the death of Caccini’s second husband, the supervision of Margherita reverted to the Medici court. Caccini’s appeal was accepted. She and her family soon returned to Florence to work for the ailing Grand Duchess Christine de Lorraine. However, Francesca’s second petition to the Grand Duchess to be made a lady of the court, was refused. Caccini remained a servant until her death.

Dispiegate guance amate
Raffaele Pe, countertenor
Chiara Granata, triple harp
David Miller, theorbo

Ch’Amor sia nudo
Elena Cecchi Fedi, soprano
Cappella di Santa Maria degli Angiolini
Gian Luca Lastraioli, theorbo and conductor

Che t’ho fatt’io
Elena Cecchi Fedi, soprano
Cappella di Santa Maria degli Angiolini
Gian Luca Lastraioli, theorbo and conductor

Non so se quell sorriso
Elena Cecchi Fedi, soprano
Cappella di Santa Maria degli Angiolini
Gian Luca Lastraioli, theorbo and conductor

Jesu corona virginum
Marilena Zlatanou, mezzo
Lars Henrik Johansen, organ

Maria, dolce Maria
Regula Konrad, soprano
Il Desiderio

O chiome belle
Shannon Mercer, soprano
Sylvain Bergeron, guitar
Amanda Keesmaat, cello

Io mi distruggo
Shannon Mercer, soprano
Sylvain Bergeron, guitar & theorbo
Amanda Keesmaat, cello
Luc Beauséjour, harpsichord

S’io m'en vò
Shannon Mercer, soprano
Sylvain Bergeron, guitar
Amanda Keesmaat, cello
Luc Beauséjour, organ

Marco da Gagliano
O admirabile commercium
Ensemble Jacqves Moderne
Joël Suhubiette, director

Marco da Gagliano
Vere languores
Ensemble Jacqves Moderne
Joël Suhubiette, director

Francesca Caccini
La Liberazione di Ruggiero dall’isola d’Alcina (excerpts)
The Toronto Consort

Producer Luke Whitlock

59 minutes

Music Played

  • Chiara Granata & David Miller

    Dispiegate, guance amate

    • Glossa GCD923501.
    • Glossa.
    • 7.
  • Chiara Granata & David Miller

    Dispiegate, guance amate

    • Glossa GCD923501.
    • Glossa.
    • 7.
  • Cappella di Santa Maria degli Angiolini & Gian Luca Lastraiolo

    Ch'Amor sia nudo

    • Brilliant 94461.
    • Brilliant.
    • 1.
  • Cappella di Santa Maria degli Angiolini & Gian Luca Lastraioli

    Ch'Amor sia nudo

    • Brilliant 94461.
    • Brilliant.
    • 1.
  • Cappella di Santa Maria degli Angiolini & Gian Luca Lastraiolo

    Che t'ho fatt'io

    • Brilliant 94461.
    • Brilliant.
    • 4.
  • Cappella di Santa Maria degli Angiolini & Gian Luca Lastraioli

    Che t'ho fatt'io

    • Brilliant 94461.
    • Brilliant.
    • 4.
  • Cappella di Santa Maria degli Angiolini & Gian Luca Lastraiolo

    Non so se quell sorriso

    • Brilliant 94461.
    • Brilliant.
    • 10.
  • Cappella di Santa Maria degli Angiolini & Gian Luca Lastraioli

    Non so se quell sorriso

    • Brilliant 94461.
    • Brilliant.
    • 10.
  • Francesca Caccini

    Jesu corona virginum

    Performer: Lars Henrik Johansen. Singer: Marilena Zlatanou.
    • Bergen BD7060CD.
    • Bergen.
    • 2.
  • Francesca Caccini

    Jesu corona virginum

    Singer: Marilena Zlatanou.
    • Bergen BD7060CD.
    • Bergen.
    • 2.
  • Francesca Caccini

    Maria, dolce Maria

    Performer: Regula Konrad. Performer: Il Desiderio.
    • Gallo CD1420.
    • Gallo.
    • 8.
  • Francesca Caccini

    Maria, dolce Maria

    Performer: Regula Konrad. Performer: Il Desiderio.
    • Gallo CD1420.
    • Gallo.
    • 8.
  • Francesca Caccini

    Io mi distruggo

    Singer: Shannon Mercer. Performer: Sylvain Bergeron. Performer: Amanda Keesmaat. Performer: Luc Beauséjour.
    • ANALEKTA AN29966.
    • ANALEKTA.
    • 13.
  • Francesca Caccini

    Io mi distruggo

    Singer: Shannon Mercer. Performer: Sylvain Bergeron. Performer: Amanda Keesmaat. Performer: Luc Beauséjour.
    • ANALEKTA AN29966.
    • ANALEKTA.
    • 13.
  • Sylvain Bergeron

    S'io men vò

    • ANALEKTA AN29966.
    • ANALEKTA.
    • 8.
  • Sylvain Bergeron

    S'io men vò

    • ANALEKTA AN29966.
    • ANALEKTA.
    • 8.
  • Francesca Caccini

    La liberazione di Ruggiero dall'isola d'Alcina

    Ensemble: Toronto Consort.
    • Marquis MAR81445.
    • Marquis.
    • 18.
  • Francesca Caccini

    La Liberazione di Ruggiero dall'isola d'Alcina

    Ensemble: Toronto Consort.
    • Marquis MAR81445.
    • Marquis.
    • 18.

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