So, I'm looking forward. To about the first week of May, when Artemisia will be holding it's Kingdom Arts and Sciences competition as well as the competition for this year's Kingdom Bard. I've decided to enter both. I'm entering as a learning experience and to have a deadline more than anything else, since I don't think I have a chance at either, but having something to focus on to get me through the winter is a good plan.
Not to mention that it gives me a slew of fun things to research. Right now I'm dipping my toes into late 16th Century Italian female vocal music. At the center of what is available are a selection of female virtuoso singers (some of them courtesans) and a really interesting group in the court of Ferrara in the 1580's and 90's, the Concerto delle Donne or The Consort of Ladies. It was a professional female performing group of women that grew out of an amateur group that had been singing in the Duke of Ferrara's chamber music concerts. The amateurs were good enough (and high placed enough) to inspire courtiers to be brought specifically to court to sing with them and composers to write for them. The original group was Isabella Bendidio (I'm listing her first since we share a birthday) and her sister Lucrezia Bendidio, Leonora Sanvitale, Vittoria Bentivoglio and their bass, Guilio Cesare Brancaccio.
There are a number of composers associated with the Consort, but Luzzasco Luzzaschi was the earliest. He published a collection of madrigals in 1601. I've been listening to some of his pieces. There's also a CD of some of his pieces written for Concerto delle Donne that was put out in 1995. I may need to get a copy. The music is lovely, tons of fun to listen to and is helping with my persona development. Unless I can convince some other people to sing with me and transpose a piece or two for my sturdy contralto I won't be singing any of it, however. The style is highly decorated which isn't where I sit comfortably, so I'm continuing to dig for something to sing for myself. Doesn't stop me from humming along though.