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Luigi Rossi

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The Lament of the Queen of Sweden

Luigi Rossi was employed in the Borghese court in Rome in 1620. The seventeenth century in Rome marked an increase in the level of musical productivity. Some of the finest musicians including Frescobaldi, Marlo Mazzocchi, Savioni and Carissimi were active in Rome at this time. Another incredibly important patron of Rossi was Antonio Barberini who was very impressed by Rossi’s works. Rossi’s music circulated in France in the early 1640s as well. In 1641, Ottavio Castelli sent Cardinal Richelieu a copy of Ferito un cavaliere, (a Wounded Knight) recommending it to Jules Mazarin. This piece was composed by Rossi as a lament of the Queen of Sweden set to a text by Fabio della Corgna, where the Queen Maria Eleanora
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Musically, the piece employs the use of a ground bass - the descending tetra chord which had by this time begun to be associated almost exclusively with the lament. The spiraling and constant downward motion of the ground bass with the repetitive harmonies of the frustrated cadence became so strongly associated with the genre of laments that the use of heightened rhetoric or further embellishments was not necessary for the despair and the intense emotions of the lament to be heard and identified. The ground bass alone became the fundamental basis of laments. ‘Lamento del la Regina di Suezia’ in particular is set as versi sciolti - recitative form throughout the entire piece. It is similar to Barbara Strozzi’s lament ‘Lagrime mie’ in that both pieces have a musical and textual refrain. The refrain of the Queen of Sweden lament seems to be the most emotionally charged lines of the piece whereby she sings in a sort of emotional frenzy “Give me someone, for pity’s sake, who will kill me!” (datemi per pietade un che m'uccida) The music of the refrain also corresponds with the emotions using affective dissonances The idea that the queen wishes for someone to kill her rather than live in a world without her King husband is an indicator of how distraught and hysterical she had become and hints at her mental instability in the period after his death. The lament itself is moving and effective. As rage overcomes the queen at the injustice of Gustavus’ death she implores the people to take up arms and “submerge the earth in torrents of blood, may every town be torched at your hands, may every province burn, kill, wound, do not spare the wicked ones” in order to avenge his death. The music changes to highlight her rage and then her incessant despair appropriately matching her tone lending a unique air to the
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