The Courtesan’s Gaze
March 24|4:00 pm - 5:30 pm
The Courtesan’s Gaze takes its name from the duet ‘Begl’occhi’ and is inspired by the famous and controversial portrait of Barbara Strozzi holding the viewer’s gaze. Barbara’s father Giulio Strozzi led an academic study group for whom Barbara performed and composed music as a young woman.
It has been believed for centuries that she also acted as a courtesan in this circle and was part of considerable scandal. Several satires were published about these musical and intellectual meetings where apparently “clothes were optional”. We will explore whether this was a fair accusation or whether society in this time was unsure of and unable to place a strong successful woman such as Barbara Strozzi, who published more than any of her contemporary female composers and even more than many of her contemporary male composers.
Our programme features duets and solos by Strozzi alongside music by Monteverdi who was occasionally party to these meetings as well as her teacher Cavalli, accompanied by baroque harp, theorbo and lute.