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Amore e 'l cor gentil sono una cosa
When two of my dearest friends, Jennifer and Eddie, decided to get married, I wrote Amore e ‘l cor gentil sono una cosa (“Love and the gentle heart are one and the same”) as my wedding gift to them.
The ceremony was held in Florence, Italy on March 4, 2020, just before the world began to lock down in response to the coronavirus pandemic. What better text could I set than a love sonnet from La vita nuova by Dante, the revered Florentine poet?
Metropolitan Opera soprano Danielle Talamantes and bass-baritone Kerry Wilkerson attended the wedding. Their heartfelt performance of my new wedding song during the ceremony reminded us that fear is not the most powerful emotion. Danielle and Kerry had also premiered the work the previous summer at the High Peaks Music Festival in Great Barrington, MA in the Berkshires.
The chamber instrumentation calls for string quintet (2 violins, 1 viola, and 2 violoncellos) and piano. But it is every bit as effective sung unaccompanied, or accompanied by a single piano or organ.
The orchestral version will make its "virtual premiere" on Valentine's Day 2021 with Danielle and Kerry singing with the National Philharmonic at Strathmore under the leadership of Maestro Piotr Gajewski.
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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)