Settimia Caccini

(1591-after c. 1638)

Italian composer and singer. Born at Florence on October 5, 1991, the youngest daughter of Giulio Caccini and singer Lucia Gagnolanti; her mother died when she was very young. She was the sister of Francesca Caccini, also a composer and singer, and Pompeo Caccini, a singer. She seems to have appeared on the stage in her father's opera Il rapimento di Cefalo, and two years later in Euridice. Joining with her family in the performances of the vocal ensemble described above, she composed her own part, like Francesca, in the Mascherate delle Ninfe della Senna for the Carnival of 1611. Again like Francesca, she received offers of employment and a husband, for example, from the court of Mantua and from Enzo Bentivoglio in Rome in 1609. Declining all of these, she married Alessandro Ghivazzani, singer and composer, and was employed with him at the Medici court. However they left in 1611, and by 1613 were for six years singers at the court of Duke Ferdinando Gonzaga at Mantua. They are next found at Parma, in 1622, in the service of Cardinal Farnese. This unstable life closed in 1632 with the death of Ghivizzani, Settimia then returning to Florence, and taking up once more her position there, where she stayed until 1661! But the Settimia Ghivizzani found in the accounts of the court at that date could also be that of her daughter. Any real trace of Settimia is lost after 1640. Settimia Caccini (1591-ca.1638) was Francesca Caccini's youngest sister, and as a child sang with her at the Medici Court. In 1608 Settimia went to Mantua, where she sang the role of "Venus" in Monteverdi's opera Arianna, and the following year married the singer-composer-poet Alessandro Ghivizzani. Unlike Francesca, Settimia seems to have subordinated her career to her husband's. However, wherever he was hired, she apparently had no trouble finding employment as a singer. After her husband's death in 1630, she entered the court in Florence. Although the name "Settimia Ghivizzani" appears in court records until 1660, it is generally assumed that she died around 1638 and that the references are to a daughter. Unfortunately, Settimia did not publish any collection of her music. Già sperai, non spero hor' più was published in a collection of seventeenth-century works. It is a short, multisectioned aria which includes an introduction, an aria in 3, a free recitative section and an astonishingly syncopated and dramatic ending. Christofano Malvezzi, in his edition of the Florentine Intermedi et concerti (Venice, 1591), informs us of an ensemble of women musicians in Florence called the Concerto delle Donne of whom two played the guitar. "All the terzets were sung and danced by Vittoria Archilei, Lucia Caccini [mother of Francesca and Settimia], and Margherita. Vittoria and Lucia each played guitars, one alla spagnola, the other alla Napolettana, and Margherita played a cembalino [small spinet] with such sweet harmonies and gentleness and beauty that most could not watch or hear. As a continuo instrument for the voice, the guitar is mentioned in more than eighty publications in the 17th century and in more than 200 in the 18th century.

VA: Monody and the Vocal Concerto