Between 1766 and 1772, the nuns of the Benedictine Convent San Lorenzo in San Severo (Apulia) commissioned numerous Passion Cantatas for the celebrations of the Holy Week from renowned Neapolitan opera composers, such as Niccolà Piccinni or Antonio Sacchini. For intonation of the „Lamentations of Jeremia“ the nuns preferred a specific instrumentation, which consisted of soprano, salterio obbligato and basso continuo.
Typically for that period, the Neapolitan opera style with its supple leggiero motifs and its orderly, functional organization of the musical phrases, entered sacred music. The virtuous cantatas, challenging for both singers as salterio players, were performed by the nuns themselves. It documents their excellent musical skills, which were acquired in their aristocratic homes. Young princesses mostly were sent to the Convent against their will. So, singing and especially playing the salterio, which was a sign of nobility at that time, helped the young nuns to distract themselves, as well as keeping up a tiny bit of their aristocratic origin. The extraordinary collection of the nun’s musical manuscripts is kept in the Archivio Capitolare of the Cathedral Santa Maria Assunta, which nowadays is the greatest collection of Italian salterio music from the second half of the 18th century.
IL DOLCE CONFORTO presents in its programm “Sacred Salterio” extraordinary cantatas of the archive and combines them with recently discovered salterio sonatas of a private collection in Apulia.
Soprano, Salterio, Violoncello, Organ/Harpsichord
Listen to this programm on our CD “Sacred Salterio”