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To the Madonna, Jesus, or God? Choosing a lauda contrafactum text

By G. Filocamo


The essay explores hitherto unnoticed relationships between secular pieces and their lauda contrafacta, considering those examples with polyphonic settings of their secular and their devotional Italian texts found in three prints (the two Petrucci books of laude and the Razzi anthology) and three manuscripts (CapePL 3.b.12, FlorBN Panc. 27, and ParisBNC 676). Given their moral complexity, medieval and Renaissance towns were the best environments for the ‘moral inversion’ realized through contrafacta texts. This kind of inversion was not related only to the similar formal structure between two texts, but a connection between the underlying meaning of the texts can be discerned. Deep fears are expressed in the devotional texts, perhaps so deep that saints were considered not powerful enough to protect the devout. All the contrafacta examined are in fact addressed to God, Jesus, and the Madonna, but they seem to preserve a connection with the original secular model: poems on suffering in love change into Marian laude, poems on fortune/misfortune become prayers to Jesus, and poems expressing deep personal desperation change into prayers to God the Father. If this connection is not fortuitous, then we can posit that the two related texts create a psychological bridge between the secular and the devotional meaning, a bridge that implies and absorbs the secular concepts into the devotional ones

Year: 2010
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