Concerto di Margherita

When: 22. 7. 2017 at 20:30

Festival upbeat: 19:30 (Brežice, Brežice Castle)

Ticket order:

Ticket price: 10 - 25 €

Festibus: Ljubljana - Brežice - Ljubljana. Departure at 17:40 (Hala Tivoli). Price: 10 €.

Concerto di Margherita (CH):


Tanja Vogrin (harfa / harp)

Giovanna Baviera (viola de gamba / viol)

Francesca Benetti (teorba / theorbo)

Rui Staehelin (lutnja / lute)

Ricardo Leitao Pedro (Baročna kitara / baroque guitar)





Rediscovering the art of singing instrumentalists with creativity and freedom of expression.


Artists’ message to visitors

We create a space of rediscovery. Our project moves between past and present: inspired by the performance practices of musicians in Italian Renaissance courts we have dedicated ourselves to developing the art of self-accompaniment. During our performances, the sound of voices and instruments fuse into one gesture as each performer accompanies himself.

We create a space for creativity. We use ten sources of sound (five voices, viol, harp, theorbo, lute and guitar) in imaginative combinations to reinterpret Italian late-Renaissance music in a novel way.

We create a space for expression. Texts by poets such as Torquato Tasso and Giovanni Battista Guarini – set to music by masters such as Monteverdi, Luzzaschi and de Wert – deeply convey the fragility of the human heart in its full range of emotions: love, suffering, joy, melancholia. They have inspired us to bring you our own creative interpretation.

We are honoured to be able to invite you into our space.



About the project

The ensemble Concerto di Margherita creates a unique soundscape in which five voices and five instruments melt into one. The group, formed by former students of the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis, Basel, has been dedicating its work to the fascinating aspect of historical performance practice which is nowadays largely overlooked: self-accompanied singing.

The five musicians of Concerto di Margherita create a spectrum of musical colours using the combinations of ten sources of sound (five voices, theorbo, lute, guitar, viol and harp). The result is a vivid interplay of voice and instrument, in which each musician is doubly involved, both with their singing and with playing their instrument. Rather than the traditional division between instrumentalists and singers, the audience experiences a performance in which voices and instruments are subtly woven into each other, so that one is never sure where one ends and the other begins.

Expressivity is central in Concerto di Margherita's fresh approach to late Renaissance and early Baroque music. Combining voice, instrument and silence, their performance unfolds in a carefully thought-out rhetoric. This variegated palette of musical colours serves as an expression of the passions and affects conveyed by the words of Torquato Tasso and Giovanni Battista Guarini, among others, set to music by masters such as Luzzasco Luzzaschi and Claudio Monteverdi.

The choice of instrumentation and repertoire has a historical inspiration. Concerto di Margherita takes its inspiration – and name – from a group of musicians who worked at the court of Alfonso II d'Este of Ferrara and were closely associated with his third wife, Margherita di Gonzaga. The most known of these musicians were the so-called “Concerto delle Donne”, three female self-accompanying singers who became the musical pearl of Ferrara's court, as well as an inspiration for an entire generation of Italian composers.

Concerto di Margherita (CH)

The ensemble Concerto di Margherita focuses on the historical practice of self-accompanied singing: all five musicians sing and accompany themselves on theorbo, viol, baroque guitar, harp and lute. Thus, the sound of five voices and five instruments melt into one musical gesture, creating a dynamic and exciting soundscape.

Concert programme

Giovanni Girolamo Kapsberger (1580–1651)

Toccata seconda arpeggiata

Primo libro d'intavolatura di chitarrone (Venezia: Antonio Pfender, 1604)


Girolamo Frescobaldi (1583–1643)

Voi partite mio sole

Primo libro d'arie musicali (Firenze: Landini, 1630)


Claudio Monteverdi (1567–1463)

Ecco mormorar l'onde

Il secondo libro de madrigali a cinque voci (Venezia: Angelo Gardano, 1595)


Giovanni Gabrieli (1557–1612)

Canzon Prima à cinque

Canzoni et sonate (Venezia: Angelo Gardano, 1615)


Giovanni Girolamo Kapsberger (1580–1651)

S'io sospiro

Primo libro di villanelle a 1, 2 e 3 voci (Roma: Flamminio Flamminii, 1610)


Claudio Monteverdi (1567–1463)

Dolci miei sospiri

Scherzi musicali a tre voci (Venezia: Ricciardo Amadino, 1607)


Claudio Monteverdi (1567–1463)

T'amo mia vita

Il quinto libro de' madrigali (Venezia: Ricciardo Amadino, 1605)


Luzzasco Luzzaschi (ca. 1545–1607)

Aura Soave

Libro primo di Madrigali e Ricercari a quattro voci (Venezia: Angelo Gardano 1588)


Luzzasco Luzzaschi (ca. 1545–1607)

Stral pungente d'amore

Libro primo di Madrigali e Ricercari a quattro voci (Venezia: Angelo Gardano 1588)


Luzzasco Luzzaschi

(ca. 1545–1607)

T'amo mia vita


Libro primo di Madrigali e Ricercari a quattro voci (Venezia: Angelo Gardano 1588) 

Andrea Gabrieli (1533–1585)

O belli e vaghi pizzi

Libro primo di Madrigali e Ricercari a quattro voci (Venezia: Angelo Gardano 1588)


Giovanni de Macque (1550–1614)

Seconde Stravaganze (cca. 1610)


Luca Marenzio (1553–1599)

Se la mia vita

Libro primo di madrigali a 4, 5 e 6 voci (Venezia: Vicentini, 1588)


Giovanna Baviera

Diminutions on „Cara la vita mia“ by Giaches de Wert


Giaches de Wert 1535–1596

Cara la vita mia

Primo libro di madrigali a cinque voci (Venezia: Girolamo Scotto, 1558)


Luzzasco Luzzaschi (ca. 1545–1607)

Canzon decima à 4

Canzoni per sonare (Venezia: Alessandro Raveri, 1608)


Giaches de Wert 1535–1596

O Primavera gioventù dell'anno

L'undecimo libro de' madrigali a cinque voci (Venezia: Angelo Gardano, 1595)


Ludovico Agostini (1534–1590)

O Villanella

Canzoni alla napolitana a cinque voci di Lodovico Agostini ferrarese (Venezia: Angelo Gardano, 1574) 


This programme was inspired by the musical life at the end of the 16th century at the Italian court of Ferrara. The city was under the rule of Duke Alfonso II d'Este, a notable patron of the arts: under his rule the Ferrarese court was a hub of musical excellence, attracting composers and musicians from afar. Despite this cultural blossoming, however, the Ferrarese dynasty was in danger of extinction: with two childless marriages behind him, Duke Alfonso was in urgent need of producing a male heir to secure the d'Este lineage. Ferrara was surrounded by powerful neighbours such as the Papal States, who were ready to take over the city should the lineage be interrupted. The hopes of the city's autonomy rested entirely on Alfonso's third wife, Margherita di Gonzaga, who moved to Ferrara from Mantua to marry Alfonso in 1579, aged 15. Margherita, a music-lover, developed close ties with one of the most important ensembles in the Ferrarese court, the so-called Concerto delle Donne. The core members of this group were three female singers who accompanied themselves on instruments: Laura Peperara, harpist, Livia d'Arco, viol-player, and Anna Guarini, lutenist. They would often perform in consort with other musicians, notably Luzzasco Luzzaschi, composer and organist, and Giulio Cesare Brancaccio, lutenist and bass singer. The Concerto, or the Dame di Ferrara, were famous for their virtuosic singing: their performances inspired composers across Italy to write for similar ensembles. The composer most closely associated with the group was Luzzaschi. His works for one, two and three sopranos,  T’amo mia vita, Stral pungente d’amore and Aura soave, form the core of this evening’s programme. Notable stylistic traits in these works include elaborate vocal embellishments, written out by Luzzaschi – a rare exception in the practice of the time, where ornamentation was left to the performer's discretion and rarely notated. These works are preceded by another striking setting of Giovanni Battista Guarini's text T’amo mia vita, this time by Monteverdi: taken from his „Quinto Libro di Madrigali”, the piece is in stark contrast with Luzzaschi's flourished setting. A lonely declamatory soprano voice is set against a choral response: the homophonic style lays the text bare for the listener, with harmonic intricacy rather than embellishment as the main expressive tool.

Aside from being a cultural landmark, Ferrara was an important trade centre, and its was the Po Delta, or Polesine region, that contributed a crucial part to the city's flourishing. This watery landscape was the inspiration for part of tonight's programme, which also creates a bridge between Ferrara and Venice, its powerful rival, with whom the city fought constantly for domination of the Polesine. In an unusual arrangement of Kapsberger's Toccata arpeggiata , the sound of two plucked instruments creates a murmuring flux of sound; this is immiediately followed by Torquato Tasso's ode to the exhilirating natural spectacle of dawn on the laguna, set to music by Claudio Monteverdi in Ecco mormorar l’onde. Set as a counterpart to natural bodies of water are human tears, also a prominent feature in the texts for this programme: tears and sighs are the central image both of Monteverdi's Dolci miei sospiri and Kapsberger's S’io sospiro. 

Other composers from Luzzaschi's entourage are also represented in this programme. They include Ludovico Agostini, Luzzaschi's student, and Ferrara-born Girolamo Frescobaldi. Frescobaldi's Voi partite mio sole is marked by an insightful resignation after a lover's abandonment. Luca Marenzio's masterful musical expression of affects in Petrarca's sonnett Se la mia vita includes chromaticism and melodic word-painting.

Because of Margherita di Gonzaga's birth-ties with Mantua, the Concerto delle Dame was closely associated with composers from the Mantuan court: indeed, the most famous component of the Concerto, singer and harpist Laura Peperara, was Mantuan herself. The composer Giaches de Wert, Flemish by birth but an adoptive Mantuan, spent many years between Mantua and Ferrara, and was known to have had close contact with the Concerto. His works in this programme include O Primavera and Cara la vita mia. The latter was an enormous success: it is said that Duke Alfonso II specifically requested this piece to be sung by Laura Peperara every evening, and that she would improvise different virtuosic embellishments upon request.

Giovanni Battista Guarini's text O primavera conveys a deep hope and longing for the renewal of spring: spring is described as youth of the year, mother of flowers and bringer of new love. It is not difficult to connect this image of Spring with Margherita di Gonzaga, the Ferrarese's symbol of hope for a brighter future, a continuance of d'Este rule. But the Ferrareses' hopes in Margherita were in vain: Alfonso died heirless in 1597, the city was taken over by the Papal States soon after and what remained of the d'Este family fled to Modena. Thus, the cultural golden age of the city, including the Concerto delle Donne, came to an end. As Guarini wrote in his bittersweet ode to spring: „You, O Spring, do indeed return, but do not bring with you the happy days of my fortunate past“ 

Lyrics can be found in Concert leaflet



Brežice, Brežice Castle

The two-storey castle is the mightiest building in Brežice, built in the middle of the 16th century in the site of the castle which was burnt down in 1515, in time of the great peasant revolt.



The price of coach provided for all concerts from Ljubljana and Zagreb is 10€. Departure from Hala Tivoli and Lisinski Hall.