Barbara Strozzi - O Maria

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Magnificat
Warren Stewart, artistic director

Jennifer Ellis Kampani, soprano
Katherine Heater, organ

A live recording from the 2010 Berkeley Festival Finale concert - June 13, 2010 at First Congregational Church in Berkeley.

The most renowned female Venetian composer of the century was without question Barbara Strozzi, who had the good fortune to be born into a world of creativity, intellectual ferment, and artistic freedom. The adopted, and most likely natural, daughter of the poet Giulio Strozzi, Barbara made her mark as both a singer and composer, eventually publishing eight collections of songs - more music in print during her lifetime than even some of the most famous composers of her day–all without the support of the Church or the patronage of a noble house. Her works were also included in important collections of song, which found their way to the rest of Europe and England. Yet she died in obscurity in Padua in 1677 with little wealth or property.

Strozzi’s only published sacred works are found in the Sacri Musciali Affetti, which appeared in 1655 and from which the motet O Maria is drawn. Strozzi dedicated the volume to Anne of Austria, following a pattern of dedications to noble women and, as in introductions to her other publications, she refers directly to her gender, reflecting not only an awareness of her unique position among women of her time but a commanding confidence in her skill and creativity.

lyrics

Text and English Translation

O Maria quam pulchra es, quam suavis, quam decora, quam pulchra es.

Tegit terram sicut nebula lumen ortum indeficiens
flamma ignis arca sederis inter spinas ortum lilium.
Tronum sion in Altissimis in columna nubis positum.

O Maria quam pulchra es, quam suavis, quam decora, quam pulchra es.

Ante sæcula creata girum cœli circuivit sola profundum abissi penetravit et in fluctibus maris ambulavit omnium corda virtute calcavit et in hereditate Domini morata est.

Tegit terram sicut nebula lumen ortum indeficiens
flamma ignis arca federis inter spinas ortum lilium.
Tronum sion in Altissimis in columna nubis positum.

O Maria quam pulchra es, quam suavis, quam decora, quam pulchra es. Alleluia.

English Translation

O Mary, how lovely you are, how sweet, how beautiful, how lovely you are.

She covers the earth like a cloud, a risen light, unfailing, a flame of fire, the ark of the new covenant, a lily among thorns. The throne of Sion on high is placed on the heights of this cloud.

O Mary, how lovely you are, how sweet, how beautiful, how lovely you are.

Begotten before time, she has circled the arc of heaven on her own, she has plunged into the depths of hell, and she has walked among the waves of the sea. She has conformed the hearts of all to her virtue, and she delights in the heritage of the Lord.

She covers the earth like a cloud, a risen light, unfailing, a flame of fire, the ark of the new covenant, a lily among thorns. The throne of Sion on high is placed on the heights of this cloud.

O Mary, how lovely you are, how sweet, how beautiful, how lovely you are. Alleuia.

credits

from Jennifer Ellis Kampani Sampler, track released July 15, 2010
Boby Borisov, engineer and mastering

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Magnificat San Francisco, California

For 20 years Magnificat has explored the emotionally charged music of the 17th Century, each season bringing together an assembly of internationally recognized musicians to present innovative programs that inspire the imagination. With dramatic flair and sensitivity to historical context, Magnificat imbues each concert with an infectious joy and a delight in musical make-believe. ... more

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