a1 Magdalen College, Oxford
Like her crown, which according to the story shines in a constellation, L'Arianna as a work of art shimmers as a distant and mysterious object, and the loss of Monteverdi's score, apart from the famous lament, makes it one of the great ‘if onlys’ of the history of music. Artistic responses to L'Arianna range wide. In Gabrielle d'Annunzio's novel Il fuoco, Stellio Effrena and his group of aesthetes in fin de siècle Venice embrace Monteverdi, and Arianna's lament in particular, as a home-grown antidote to Wagner, elevating ‘Lasciatemi morire’ to the status of an Italian precursor of the ‘Liebestod’. Recently Alexander Goehr gave a new lease of life to Ottavio Rinuccini's libretto in his opera Arianna, first performed in September 1995, and, as if not to desecrate a hallowed object, he included in the opera a recording of the opening of Monteverdi's surviving fragment sung by Kathleen Ferrier.
* A number of friends and colleagues have been generous with their comments, advice and criticism. I am particularly grateful to Prof. Lorenzo Bianconi, Prof. Patrick Boyde, Dr Roberto Bruni, Prof. Tim Carter, Dr Laura Davey, Dr Leofranc Holford-Strevens, Prof. Giulio Lepschy and Dr Diego Zancani. Mr Albi Rosenthal made my work easier and more pleasurable with his generous loan of an original edition of Federico Follino's Compendio.