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The eighteenth century saw a great increase in secular music for solo voice and continuo set to texts in Venetian, then a recognized literary language rather than a mere Italian dialect. Most of these compositions are short gondola songs or canzonettas, but a few are cantatas in several movements, indistinguishable from their counterparts with Italian texts except in language and subject matter, which favours contemporary themes treated in a comic manner. The two Venetian cantatas for soprano and continuo by Diogenio Bigaglia (1678–1745) published here – probably the first of their type ever to appear in a modern edition – are excellently crafted, revealing an unexpectedly racy side to the composer, a Benedictine monk. One is a set of shopping instructions given by a nun to her aged servant; the other is a woman’s catty description of the rise from rags to riches of one of her neighbours through prostitution. The edition comes with translations of the texts and a brief note on Venetian pronunciation.
Music example Cantata 1
Music example Cantata 2