Giovanni Antonio Rigatti (±1613-1649): Magnificat (The Venetian Vespers)

Photo: Interior view of Udine Cathedral where Rigatti was maestro di capella before returning to Venice. The cathedral authorities were so pleased to have acquired his services that they paid him double the salary of his predecessor.

Photo: Interior view of Udine Cathedral where Rigatti was maestro di capella before returning to Venice. The cathedral authorities were so pleased to have acquired his services that they paid him double the salary of his predecessor.


Giovanni Antonio Rigatti was one of the two the most important composers at St Mark’s in the period following Monteverdi’s death in 1643 (the other was Giovanni Rovetta – mfi) .  He was born in Venice and started his musical career as a choirboy in St. Mark’s aged either six or eight depending on whether you believe he was born in 1613 or 1615. I can’t tell you anything about his musical education but what I can tell you is from September 1635 until March 1637 he was maestro di cappella of Udine Cathedral and that the Cathedral authorities were so pleased to have him that they awarded him a salary twice that of his predecessor, Orindio Bartolini. Not bad for somebody who was at most twenty years old!

He returned to Venice to take up at the Ospedale dei Mendicanti and the Incurabili and in 1642 took up a the post of chaplain to Gian Francesco Morosini, who became Patriarch of Venice in 1644 and a procurator of S Marco in 1645. Morosini’s influence led to Rigatti’s appointment as a sottocanonico in St. Mark’s in July 1647. This meteoric career is entirely understandable when you listen to his music of which eleven collections survive nine of them church music as follows:

  • Two books of solo motets
  • Three books of small-scale concertato motets (one including a messa breve) .
  • Four books of psalm settings (three of which also contain a Mass).

How I wish more of his music had survived and how I wish he had lived long enough to compose more of it! That which does survive is very high quality most of it includes parts for obligato instruments – usually violins, and Rigatti’s ritornelli are very creative, like Monteverdi he used his ritornelli to give structure and coherence to his larger compositions. It’s also very flexibly written in other words it could be performed either as a form of religious chamber music with solo voices perhaps accompanied by violins, or on  grand public occasions by using a ripieno chorus and sometimes extra instruments. His melodies both instrumental and vocal are delightful and tend to stay with you long after the last note has died away. His word-painting can often be quite dramatic such as when he introduces a ‘toccata da guerra’ in the stile concitato at Fecit potentiam in the Magnificat below. Enjoy :-).

mfi

Video Source: Giovanni Rigatti 1615-1649 – "Magnificat" (The Venetian Vespers) – YouTube. Published on 2 Mar 2014 by amorroma1244.

Text & Translation: Magnificat

LatinModern EnglishTraditional Translation
Magnificat anima mea Dominum.My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord.My soul doth magnify the Lord:
Et exsultavit spiritus meus in Deo salutari meo.And my spirit rejoices in God, my Saviour.and my spirit rejoiceth in God my Saviour.
Quia respexit humilitatem ancillae suae:For he has looked with favour on the lowliness of his handmaiden:For he hath regarded: the lowliness of his hand-maiden.
ecce enim ex hoc beatam me dicent omnes generationes.behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.For behold, from henceforth: all generations shall call me blessed.
Quia fecit mihi magna qui potens est:For he that is mighty has done wondrous things for me:For he that is mighty hath magnified me:
et sanctum nomen eius.and holy is his name.and holy is his Name.
Et misericordia eius a progenie in progenies timentibus eum.And his mercy is upon them
that fear him throughout all generations.
And his mercy is on them that fear him: throughout all generations.
Fecit potentiam in bracchio suo:He has shown the power of his arm:He hath shewed strength with his arm:
dispersit superbos mente cordis sui.he has scattered the proud in their conceit.he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.
Deposuit potentes de sede, et exaltavit humiles.He has put down the mighty from their seat, and has exalted the humble and meek.He hath put down the mighty from their seat: and hath exalted the humble and meek.
Esurientes implevit bonis:He has filled the hungry with good things:He hath filled the hungry with good things:
et divites dimisit inanes.and the rich he has sent empty away.and the rich he hath sent empty away.
Suscepit Israel, puerum suum, recordatus misericordiae suae.He has sustained his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy.He remembering his mercy hath holpen his servant Israel:
Sicut locutus est ad patres nostros,
Abraham, et semini eius in saecula. Luke 1: 46-55
As he promised to our forefathers,
Abraham and his sons for ever.
As he promised to our forefather Abraham and to his seed for ever.
Gloria Patri, et Filio, et Spiritui Sancto.
Sicut erat in principio, et nunc, et semper,
et in saecula saeculorum. Amen.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.
As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be,
world without end. Amen.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son: and to the Holy Ghost;
As it was in the beginning, and is now, and ever shall be: world without end. Amen.

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