Lucia Boscolo

"Son passaro solitario tornato...": post scriptum al 'ciclo dell'uccello'

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The image of the bird has always stimulated the poets' and musicians' fancy because of her privileged sound implications. Nevertheless a recent Gioia Filocamo's study documents a particular flourishing of bird-song compositions during the Renaissance, proving the existence of a real ornithological cicle elaborated by musicians working at the courts of Mantua and Ferrara between the XVth and the XVIth century. Peculiarities of the texts belonging to the "ciclo dell'uccello" are: a) the "strambotto" as the most frequent metrical form; b) the allegory of the lover-bird who speaks in first person; the bird, symbol of gaiety, dynamism, freedom, is unexpectedly represented as a sad and plaintive, undefended and inconclusive animal, unable to fly and prisoner in a cage, to symbolize the poet, slave of Love, who vainly tries to escape from the yoke of his painful condition. Coherently with these parameters, in this "post scriptum" to Filocamo's essay two secular witnesses (handed down only in literary sources) are added, and two spiritual versions (on the contrary set in music) which show as our bird's mournful echoes continue to expand almost till our days in the pious lauds, at first promoted by religious brotherhoods, then prescribed by ecclesiastic rules about Christian catechism. The textual compactness of the cicle is not verified musically, but in this variety resides also the charm of the cicle. It documents the fortune met by the subject during the centuries and the unbroken effort to translate in music all the expressive possibilities of the text, whether in his secular or spiritual aspects.

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