0:00 / 3:53
Amore e 'l cor gentil sono una cosa
One of my (and my wife Lauren's) best friends, Jennifer Warren, was getting married to another one of our dear friends, Edward Vernon. So Jennifer asked me if I would write something special for their special day.
Their wedding was being held in Florence, Italy. What better text could I set than a love sonnet from La vita nuova by Dante, the Florentine philosopher-poet par excellence? I ran the idea by Jennifer, and she was thrilled. Naturally, it would have to be sung in the original Italian.
The result was Amore e 'l cor gentil sono una cosa ("Love and the gentle heart are one and the same").
Metropolitan Opera soprano Danielle Talamantes and bass-baritone Kerry Wilkerson would be among the guests. So I composed the work as a love duet for soprano and bass-baritone. Danielle and Kerry premiered the piece in the summer of 2019 at the High Peaks Music Festival in Great Barrington, MA in the Berkshires.
It is scored as a chamber piece, using a string quintet supported by piano, but it is every bit as effective sung unaccompanied, or accompanied by a single piano or organ.
Amore e 'l cor gentil sono una cosa,
Sì come il saggio in suo dittare pone,
E così esser l'un sanza l'altro osa
Com/alma razional sanza ragione.
Falli natura quand'è amorosa,
Amor per sire e 'l cor per sua magione,
Dentro la qual dormendo si riposa
Tal volta poca e tal lunga stagione.
Bieltate appare in saggia donna pui,
Che piace a gli occhi sì, che dentro al core
Nasce un disio de la cosa piacente;
E tanto dura talora in costui,
Che fa svegliar lo spirito d'Amore.
E simil face in donna omo valente.
Love and the gentle heart are one same thing,
Even as the wise man in his ditty saith:
Each, of itself, would be such life in death
As rational soul bereft of reasoning.
'Tis nature makes them when she loves: a king
Love is, whose palace where he sojourneth
Is called the heart; there draws he quiet breath
At first, with brief or longer slumbering.
Then beauty seen in virtuous womankind
Will make the eyes desire, and through the heart
Send the desiring of the eyes again;
Where often it abides so long enshrin'd
That Love at length out of his sleep will start.
And women feel the same for worthy men.
Dante Alighieri, 1265 - 1321
(Trans. Dante Gabriel Rossetti)
YEAR OF COMPOSITION
Solo Voice (Duet)
Soprano and Baritone (Duet), String Quintet (2 Violins, 1 Viola, 2 Cellos) & Piano
Soprano and Baritone (Duet) & Piano
Soprano and Baritone (Duet) & Organ
American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP)
PURCHASE SHEET MUSIC
Join the Mailing List
Subscribe and be the first to receive news from Henry on concerts, recordings, special events and much more, direct to your inbox.
Your email will never be shared, and you can unsubscribe any time.