Mantua, 1612: a cross-section of musical life at the Gonzaga court. In the Palatine Basilica of Santa Barbara, solemn services are celebrated; important composers, singers and instrumentalists, in turn, come to the fore. The precious organ made by Graziadio Antegnati in 1565 enchants the listeners with its timbres. Stefano Nascimbeni, a learned Mantuan musician, has been the kapellmeister of Santa Barbara since 1609. In 1612 he has published a collection of eight-part Masses: among them there is one that is entitled Paradis del Amours, after a chanson from which it has probably drawn both its title and its themes. Alongside the kapellmeister’s music, other compositions have been added here to act as a proprium for this Mass. They are the work of other musicians in the Gonzaga Duke’s employment: Francesco Rasi (first interpreter of Monteverdi’s Orfeo in 1607), Giulio Cardi, Lorenzo Sanci, Ottavio Bargnani, and Amante Franzoni. Besides passages of classical counterpoint writing, these pieces – particularly the motets – clearly contain some expressive elements that are close to the dramatic, “representative”, style of singing that was emerging during the first decades of the 17th century.