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The Singer (c. 1645)
Bernardo Cavallino (1616-c. 1656)

Folle è ben che si crede (1638)
Tarquinio Merula (1594-1665)

Folle è ben che si credeTarquinio Merula
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This melodious love song by Merula has a timeless quality that will certainly delight the modern audiences young and old alike. The playful lyrics convey a coquettish act that matches well with the suggestive look and gesture of the beautiful singer in the painting.

Merula, an organist and director of church music active in northern Italy, is considered as a progressive composer who plays a substantial role in modernizing sacred music. He blurs the stylistic boundaries between devotional and vernacular music by making use of popular grounds in mass and psalm settings.


Folle è ben che si crede

Che per dolci lusinghe amorose

O per fiere minaccie sdegnose

Dal bel idoo mio rittraga il piede

Cangi pur suo prigioniero

Spera che goda la libertà

Dica chi vuole dica chi sa.


Altri per gelosa

Spiri pur empie fiamme dal seno

Versi pure Megera il veneno

Perchè rompi al mio ben la fede mia

Morte il viver mi toglia

Mai fia ver che si scioglia

Quel caro laccio che preso m'ha

Dica chi vuole dica chi sa.


Ben havrò tempo, e loco

Da sfogar l'amoroser mie pene

Da temprar de l'amato mio bene

E de l'arso mio cor, l'occulto foco

E trà l'ombre, e gli orrori

De nuturni splendori

Il mio ben furto s'asconderà

Dica chi vuole dica chi sa.

English translation

Mad indeed is anyone who believes 
he can, by sweet and amorous flattery
or by proud and haughty threats,
turn my steps away from my beautiful idol.
Let him give up his belief
that my imprisoned heart hopes to enjoy liberty.
Say what you will, say what you may.

Let others, out of jealousy,
breath foul flames from their hearts;
let Megera pour forth her venom
to destroy my faith in my beloved.
Death may snatch my life away,
but never will it loosen
the previous bond that binds me.
Say what you will, say what you may.

Soon I will have both time and leisure
to vent my amorous pangs,
to fan the flames of the secret fire
of my beloved and of my burning heart,
and, 'twixt the shadows and fears
of nocturnal splendours,
my beloved will be secretly hiding.
Say what you will, say what you may.

Performed by:

Vivian Yau (Soprano)

David Chung (Harpsichord)

© Image by concession of the Ministry of Culture - Museo e Real Bosco di Capodimonte
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