Francesca Caccini

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Alias: La Cecchina


Born: 18 September 1587

Died: 1645?


Francesca Caccini, often called "La Cecchina" ("The Songbird"), was born in Florence, Italy. Her father, Giulio Caccini, was a well respected and prolific composer, and her mother, Lucia Gagnolanti, was a singer herself. Francesca's younger sister, Settimia, like Francesca was a singer and composer, and their brother, Pompeo, also was known as a singer during his time.

Francesca's musical training began early, and she was known to have played the keyboard, lute, guitar, and harp, in addition to her singing for which she was most famous.

Francesca made her living as a performer as well as a composer, and her talents did not go unnoticed by the important musical figures of the day. Claudio Monteverdi, one of the founders of the early Baroque, heard her perform in 1610, and subsequently wrote to his friend Cardinale Ferdinando Gonzaga, "…udi a Firenze la signora figola di Sr. G.R. molto ben cantare e suonare di liuto chitaronato et clavicembalo." (…I heard, in Florence, the daughter of Mr. G.R. (Giulio Romano Caccini) sing very well and play the lute, the guitar, and the harpsichord.).

She became engaged to Giovanni Battista Signorini, another Florentine court singer. The two were married on November 15, 1607, and had one child, Margherita, in 1622. Less than a year after Giovanni's death in 1626, Francesca married an aristocrat named Tomaso Raffaelli. They had a son, also called Tomaso, in 1628, but the new family would soon be torn by another premature death, as Francesca's new husband died in 1630.

Francesca's first music for the stage, La stiava, was performed in 1607 at the Florentine Carnival. Unfortunately, the music has not survived. Over the next few years, she contributed incidental music to various compositions by other composers. However, her first surviving independent work, Il primo libro delle musiche was not published until 1618, coincidentally the year of her father's death. Few of her other works have survived, with the notable exception of the opera La liberazione di Ruggiero dall'isola d'Alcina. Francesca is known as the first female composer of opera, and is one of the most prolific female composers of her time, if not of all time.

Francesca continued to perform, compose, and teach at least until May of 1637, when she resigned from the Medici court. After that there are conflicting reports of her location and eventual death.

View the Wikipedia article on Francesca Caccini.

List of choral works

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