Monteverdis Fourth Book of Madrigals

English Translations

These poetic realisations in English of the texts of madrigals from the Fourth Book were performed at the E M Forster Theatre at Tonbridge School in May 2005. Rather than print a translation in the performance programme, each was read from the stage to more fully engage the audience, and to provide for them the opportunity to understand the meaning of each madrigal without the distraction of trying to read from a programme in the dark of the theatre.

I decided against using a literal, word-for-word account of the texts by Rinuccini, Guarini, Moro and Tasso (near contemporaries of Shakespeare), because of the impossibility of retaining the original music of the poetry in a translation from late sixteenth and early seventeenth century Italian to modern English.

During the performance each madrigal, sung in the Italian, was preceded by a re-working in English of the texts. These sonnets faithfully relate the sense of the originals, but re-cast that sense so that, in keeping with Monteverdi's intentions with the Seconda Prattica, the words of his madrigals live for an English-speaking audience.

Charles Marshall, July 2006

The poems on this website are the copyright of Charles Marshall 2006

Performances on this website are by Concerto Italiano

English Translations of Book Four of Monteverdi's Madrigals (Quarto Libro dei Madrigali)