Francesca e Paolo

2007 10 minutes
choir a cappella SATB
Text Dante Alighieri

The story of the meeting between Dante (and Virgil) and Francesca da Rimini and her brother-in-law, Paolo, has always fascinated me: Dante places the couple in hell in the circle that punishes the sins of the flesh and yet he is deeply moved by the extenuating circumstances which led them to “sin”. During the whole of the meeting only Francesca speaks, Paolo cries bitterly at her side.

My setting starts with the sounds of the fierce wind (la bufera) and Dante (solo tenor) asking Virgil (solo bass) if he may speak to the two souls he sees flying in the distance. As they come closer Dante calls to them and “the Love that leads them” allows them to come. The sound of the storm subsides and is replaced by the plaintive sobs of Paolo (choir) while Francesca (solo soprano) tells her story.

It is intended that the solo parts will be sung by members of the chorus but the solo soprano and solo tenor are big parts and so these singers will perform only these roles. The solo bass on the other hand is a small part and this singer should also be able to sing most of the choral bass part.