The concerto delle donne (lit. consort of ladies) was a group of professional female singers in the late Renaissance court of Ferrara, Italy, renowned for their technical and artistic virtuosity. The ensemble was founded by Alfonso II, Duke of Ferrara, in 1580 and was active until the court was dissolved in 1597. Giacomo Vincenti, a music publisher, praised the women as "virtuose giovani" (young virtuosas), echoing the sentiments of contemporaneous diarists and commentators.
The origins of the ensemble lay in an amateur group of high-placed courtiers who performed for each other within the context of the Duke's informal musica secreta in the 1570s. The ensemble evolved into an all-female group of professional musicians, the concerto delle donne, who performed formal concerts for members of the inner circle of the court and important visitors. Their signature style of florid, highly ornamented singing brought prestige to Ferrara and inspired composers of the time.
The concerto delle donne revolutionized the role of women in professional music, and continued the tradition of the Este court as a musical center. Word of the ladies' ensemble spread across Italy, inspiring imitations in the powerful courts of the Medici and Orsini. The founding of the concerto delle donne was the most important event in secular Italian music in the late sixteenth century; the musical innovations established in the court were important in the development of the madrigal, and eventually the seconda pratica.
Famous quotes containing the word donne:
“God employs several translators; some pieces are translated by age, some by sickness, some by war, some by justice.”
—John Donne (c. 15721631)