TARQUINIO MERULA (1595-1665)
Curtio Precipitato et altri Capricij Composti in diversi modi vaghi e leggiadri a voce sola [...], Libro secondo, opera XIII, Venezia, 1638
The Curtio precipitato was published in Venice in 1638, the same year and place in which Claudio Monteverdi’s 8th book of madrigals was printed. There is no shortage of ironic and melodic references to this coincidence: the opening “horse motif” of the Curtio is an obvious example. This work (after which the entire collection is entitled) is absolutely exceptional for various reasons. It draws from a particular episode in Erasmus von Rotterdam’s “Praise of Folly” and presents it in the form of a meticulous parody of both classical and musical (“madrigalistic”) rhetoric. The aim of the orator is to convince the listeners of the paradoxical madness of Curtio who, in order to acquire praise and fame, throws himself into a vortex which has mysteriously opened in the center of the city. The vocal virtuosity which results is equally “paradoxical” and “mad” as it follows and seconds the text with great originality, exploiting an enormous and difficult range.