Quattro diagnosi sul Florario di Francesco Buti

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Abstract

The sixth book “Li Fiori” of Girolamo Kapsperger, printed in 1632 for one, two, three and four voices with continuo and Spanish guitar, is the unique collection dedicated to flowers in 17th-century Italy. The German maestro, as a protégé of Pope Urbano VIII, performed this music a year before in an unspecified Roman academy within the context of the Barberini’s family – it must be noted that the ambiguous term academy could be translated as private concert. However, verses and music do not belong to the villanella genre, because the structure of polyphony and poems is more refined than that used by other composers of authentic villanella and, for its characteristics, this work could be enclosed in the repertoire of canzonetta. The choice of the title must be explained in relation to cardinal Francesco Barberini’s patronage, who created a big garden in Rome full of plants imported from all parts of the world, and the term “villanelle” (from the Italian “villa”) is probably an allusion to the nature loved by the cardinal. The poems, written in a very complicated way, contain a mixture of different meters based on the ancient Greek mythology, whose subjects are the flowers born by metamorphosis from pagan Gods’ blood and milk. As Giovan Battista Marino’s “Lira” (1614), “Sampogna” (1620) and “Adone” (1623), Buti resumed the legends of the jasmine, violet, pink, purple anemone, hyacinth, narcissus and iris aiming at transforming them in a means to enhance the catholic ethic. In some cases, for example in reference to the jasmine, Buti was inspired by the contemporaneous iconography, in particular Guido Reni’s, Guercino’s and Cartari’s pictures (cf. the “Aurora” at the Rospigliosi-Pallavicini Palace, another “Aurora” at the Ludovisi Casino, the treatise of Vincenzo Cartari “Le imagini dei dei degli antichi”, 1626). The core meaning of “Li Fiori” metaphors, which establish close ties with the Counter-reformation mentality, is the slogan “talking/painting” drawn from Horace’s “Ars poetica” and Marino’s “Dicerie sacre” (1614). To this regard it can be mentioned the extraordinary case of the “Granadiglia” poem. At the time, this Latin-American flower, known as maracock or maracuja, was renamed granadilla by the Spanish conquistadores, and then transformed by the Jesuits into Flos passionis/passionflower, whose components were forced to represent Christ crucifixion. From 1608 to the 1660s, priests and poets, like Giovanni Battista Botero and Marino, wrote poems on the passionflower on the basis of some unreal images spread by the Jesuits. Aiming at experiencing a new way of ancient ékfrasis, they had described the passionflower without any reference to the authentic exotic flower. These poets and intellectuals dealt with different paradigms employing metaphors to give the flower a distorted meaning, presenting it either as the book of nature, or as the symbol of a mysterious gift given by God, in which are embodied both the “officium occultandi” and the “ratio docendi”. These strategies had the final goal to consider the flower as a natural means to reveal the secrets of Christ’s Passion after his death. However, in the 1630s the comparison among poems and botanical treatises showed a diminished interest about this kind of “ut pictura poësis”, especially when the descriptions and the drawings of the true passionflower began to be widespread without any religious implication. It is not a mere accident the presence of granadiglia close to the “red cardinal flower” in the mentioned Barberini’s garden, as emphasized by the botanist Giovan Battista
Lingua originaleItalian
EditoreTorre d'Orfeo
Numero di pagine135
ISBN (stampa)9788885147881
Stato di pubblicazionePublished - 2009

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