Petrarch, trans. Argento (E)
I chose these three sonnets to represent the beginning, middle and end of Petrarch’s unrequited love for a married woman named Laura. Whether the Laura who inspired the poet’s celebrated verses was an actual person or a poetic device long associated with the idealization of women is a question that has divided scholars for centuries and is not likely ever to be settled to the satisfaction of all. Consequently before I felt prepared to put music to these sonnets I had to address that question and take a stand. On the basis of Petrarch’s original language - unstilted and passionate - and a denial he makes in a letter to a friend who accused him of ‘inventing’ Laura (“I wish that she indeed had been a fiction and not a madness...”) I opted to consider her a real person. Therefore I assumed that Petrarch’s passion for Laura was sincere, profound and abiding. The music I have written for these sonnets is a product of that view.
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