L’Arte dell’Amore is a unique album featuring soprano and classical guitarist Tara Rose Davison. It is comprised of rare 19th century Italian art songs, many of which have never before been recorded. Tara Rose Davison, with the help of music historian Brian Jeffery, wanted to rescue these beautiful songs before they were lost forever.
Tara Rose is an uncommon musician in that she is both an opera singer and classical guitarist. As a one woman “ensemble” she recorded both the guitar and voice parts of this album simultaneously, which is quite unusual in the classical music world. Tara Rose has performed on international opera stages in various roles such as Cleopatra in Giulio Cesare, Rosalina in Die Fledermaus and Queen of the Night in Die Zauberflöte. She has been a finalist in the Metropolitan Opera Auditions and in 2012 performed for a White House Delegation.
The opening track and the inspiration for the album title, “Son troppo innocente,” published in 1811, is a lamenting ballad which can be summed up in the first lyric, which translates to, “I am too innocent in the art of love.” The composer, Luigi Brambilla, wrote this as the first in a set Sei Ariette Italiane. Brambilla is almost unheard of and this very well may be the only recording of his works.
What follows is a set of six gorgeous songs (Sei Ariette) by Mauro Giuliani (1781-1829). Giuliani is most known for his vast collection of works for classical guitar. This set of vocal music however was of great importance to Giuliani’s career in that it was written for the Archduchess of Austria, Marie Louise, who favored Giuliani as her court composer. Marie Louise was the second wife of Napoleon. It is said that though their marriage was arranged they were truly in love. Sei Ariette was published in 1818, just four years after Napoleon’s fall in 1814. After Napoleon’s exile, Marie Louise returned to Vienna. With words by Metastasio (1698-1782) these songs truly capture what Marie Louise must have felt during this time. A competent musician in her own right, it is highly likely that Marie Louise sang these very songs.
L’Arte dell’Amore also contains Sonata No. 12 by Nicolò Paganini (1782-1840). These two tracks of solo classical guitar serve as relaxing yet energetic interlude between the vocal tracks. Though Paganini is widely known for his virtuosic skills as a violinist, he was an equally talented guitarist.
Tracks 10 and 11 feature works by another little known composer, Giacomo Gotifredo Ferrari (1759-1842) who was a successful performer and composer of the era. He was born in Italy but travelled throughout Europe and had many vocal works (including a method for the Italian style of singing) published in London. “A Carolina” is the first in his set Sei Canzonetter Italiane, which went through several editions. It is unlikely that he wrote the guitar accompaniment, for which there is no attribution. One may guess that the guitar part was written by Bartolomeo Bortolazzi, a popular guitarist of the same era whose works were published by the same company as Ferrari’s. “L’Innamorato” is the second song in the set Sei Ariette coll’accompagnamento di Pianoforte. Nothing is known of E. Seidler, who arranged the accompaniment for guitar is 1809.
The two final songs on the album are the popular arias “Vedrai carino” and “Batti, batti o bel Masetto” from Don Giovanni by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791). Zerlina sings “Vedrai carino” to comfort her fiancé (Masetto) after he was beaten by Don Giovanni. “Batti, batti o bel Masetto” is also sung by Zerlina. She asks Masetto to forgive her suspicious behavior around Don Giovanni. In these rare renditions, the orchestral accompaniment is beautifully arranged for classical guitar by Fernando Sor (1778-1839). Fernando Sor was a prolific composer of works for classical guitar. He admired Mozart greatly, arranging several of Mozart’s masterpieces for solo classical guitar.
L’Arte dell’Amore takes the listener on a journey back in time to 19th Century Italy. It’s the perfect album for anyone who enjoys opera, classical guitar or is interested in hearing what music sounded like about 200 years ago.