Sonetti d’amore [Sonnets of love] (men’s chorus version) 2006
9 mvt | 30 min
a cappella

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About this Piece

This work was composed for ÆDONIS, the 18-voice men’s ensemble that I founded in 2004 as part of The Seattle Men’s Chorus. I composed the Ritornello movement of this piece in November 2005, and the interior movements in late December 2005 and early January 2006. The interior movements have 18 different solos; some last the entire length of a movement, others are shorter; others still take the form of duets and trios. I wrote each solo with particular voices in mind. Because of this, my Sonetti d’amore are dedicated to those people who gave me the occasion to write for them: to the singers of ÆDONIS.

Tomasso de’ Cavalieri was one of Michelangelo’s most celebrated patrons, the one for whom Michelangelo painted his famous Ganymede (weaving yet another homosexual strand into this historical connection). Tomasso was married, so there is no evidence that he and Michelangelo were lovers. Physical connections aside, these sonnets were indeed written for Tomasso, and are profound expressions of unrequited love from one of the most gifted minds that the Western world has ever produced.

Even if their origin is found in unrequited love, these poems embrace a narrative that takes us from the giddiness of infatuation, through the pain of lost love, and explore love in its youth as well as the companionship in older age. Michelangelo, well ahead of the politics in his day, goes so far as to question what love has to do with gender, and rejects Platonic love in favor of Aristotelian risk, where love struggles between the impassioned and reasonable. Even though these poems were penned centuries ago, I find them to be some of the most relevant and profound discussions of what love actually can be, and hope that reading these verses will encourage you to consider what love actually means to you, as well as to those that you love.

Text Credit

Michelangelo Buonarroti

Sample Text

Quanta dolcezza (Ritornello)
What sweetness he brings my heart through my eyes,
He who steals both time and death at once!
This is why he is the one who comforts me
And my desire for him grows and lasts forever.
Love, like any virtue, alive and alert,
Rouses my spirits and gets more of my attention.
He responds to me: “Like a corpse is he
Who leads his life with such certainty.”
Love is an idea born from beauty
Imagined or seen within the heart,
A friend to all virtue and kindness.

Sonetto XXXVIII (incomplete)