“Being a woman, I am concerned about publishing this work,” wrote the composer Barbara Strozzi in the introduction to her Op. 1 Book of Madrigals. “Would that it lie safely under a golden oak tree and not be endangered by swords of slander which have already been drawn to battle against it.”

The Viola da Gamba Playerby Bernardo Strozzi. The subject is believed to be Barbara Strozzi

Strozzi (1619-1677) was born in Venice, the illegitimate daughter of Giulio Strozzi, an influential poet who helped promote his daughter’s career and whose words she often set to music. A gifted singer as well, Barbara would publish eight volumes, much of it for female voice, but as the above intro suggests, it wasn’t at all plain sailing. For those who were jealous of her talent or success, insinuating that Strozzi was no better than a courtesan implied dismissively that she could only have earned her commissions on her back.

Now Sydney-based Pinchgut Opera is taking up cudgels on behalf of the most prolific composer of her day. Recorded over two weeks...

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