Francesca Caccini

Feminale of Music

Renaissance painting of a lady in red and blue

Francesca Caccini was not only a composer but also a talented singer. This is why she has earned the nickname »La Cecchina« (the songbird).

She was born in Florence on September 18, 1587 and, according to the accounts of her father Giulio Caccini, had already published three volumes of 300 songs at the beginning of the 17th century. Queen Maria de Medici sent the Caccini family on a concert tour to the court of Henry IV in Paris for ten months. The five-part family ensemble makes stopovers in Modena, Milan, Turin and Lyon. She plays harpsichord, lute and guitar and often accompanies herself. In Paris Francesca Caccini was offered a permanent position, but at the behest of Grand Duke Ferdinando I de' Medici she had to return with her family to Florence, then one of the most important cultural centers. There she was employed until 1627 at the court of the Medici, where her reputation was so great that by 1618 she was already one of the most important and best-paid musicians.

After the performance of her first stage work »La Stiava« in 1607, seven further performances of compositions, which she wrote mainly for the carnival in Florence, followed until 1625. Only a few works by Caccini have survived to this day: »Il primo libro delle musiche a una e due voce« and the ballet opera »La liberazione di Ruggiero dall'isola d'Alcina«. As part of the international women composers' festival in Cologne, which was organised by the conductor and music historian Elke Mascha Blankenburg (1943–2013) despite resistance from male colleagues, this opera was performed again for the first time in 1980 in a sensational way. It is considered the earliest known opera by a female composer.

Compositions

Lasciatemi qui solo, released by Ars Lyrica Houston 2017, video and audio produced by Runaway Productions LLC, recorded on 12/11/2017, Zilkha Hall / Hobby Center For The Performing Arts. This musical performance features a trio of exceptional Houston singers accompanied by a colorful continuo band with violins, cello, baroque harp, theorbo and harpsichord.

O chiome belle (Oh beautiful hair, canzonetta), published by The Orchard Enterprises on 09.03.2010: Shannon Mercer, Luc Beauséjour, Sylvain Bergeron, Amanda Keesmaat from »Francesca Caccini: O Viva Rosa«

La liberazione di Ruggiero dall'isola d'Alcina, published by Ondine Productions, Sydney: Excerpts from the footage taken during the dress rehearsal on July 28, 2012 by Thijs Rozeboom at the Parade Theaters, Kensington, Sydney. Musicians: Tommie Andersson, Helen Byrne, Angus Ryan, Gamba-Fiona Ziegler, Gamba-Cathy Upex, Tara Hashambhoy, Alicia Crossley, Alana Blackburn, Steven Machamer, Prue Gibbs, Diana Weston

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