Research Stream


Daniela Kaleva (2014, 2016)
Australian Institute of Music (Melbourne)

Performing Religious Affect in Claudio Monteverdi’s Il Pianto della Madonna

This practice-led project explores the passion of grief in the performance of sacred music with reference to Il pianto della Madonna (Venice, 1640–1641). Il pianto della Madonna is a religious contrafactum of Lamento d’Arianna with music by Claudio Monteverdi. The research draws on iconography of the Blessed Virgin Mary at the cross and rhetorical visuality techniques.


The practice-led exploration of Il pianto della Madonna is the third case study of the Arianna Project. The Arianna Project investigates the impact of historical acting techniques on performance practice and reception of early opera recitative using the famous Lamento d'Arianna with music by Claudio Monteverdi as a locus of experimentation.

Il pianto della Madonna (The Weeping of the Madonna) for solo voice and continuo was first published in Claudio Monteverdi’s book of sacred music Selva morale e spirituale (Venice, 1640). It is a religious contrafactum in Latin of the famous monody Lamento d’Arianna (Venice, 1623) which was once part of the opera L’Arianna (Mantua, 1608 – music lost). Designed for intimate chamber performances, both recitative laments articulate the ardent speech and intense emotions of women transiting through the liminal phases of either marriage or death. Il pianto della Madonna represents Mary’s religious fervour at the feet of the crucified Jesus and is a potent example of unwavering piety at a crucial point in the Christ story. This project examines Il pianto della Madonna with reference to expression and embodiment of baroque religious passions. By deploying a performative approach we aim to gain both an ‘outside in’ and develop and ‘inside out’ glimpse into the expression of Mary’s emotional journey at the cross and how religious emotions can be expressed in performance. Associate Investigator Dr Daniela Kaleva directs rising stars of Australian early music Jacob Lawrence (tenor), Hannah Lane (triple harp) and Nick Pollock (theorbo) with Calvin Bowman (organ).


Kaleva, D. ‘Emotions in a Historically Informed Performance of ‘Il pianto della Madonna’ by Claudio Monteverdi’. In Performing History: Approaches to History Across Musicology, Studies in History and Sociology of Music, edited by Nancy November, pp. 72–98. Boston: Academic Studies Press, 2020.

Kaleva, D. 'Performative Research: A Performance-led Study of "Lamento d'Arianna" with Historically Informed Rhetorical Gesture'. Musicology Australia, Special Issue: 'Music Performance and Performativity' 36.2 (2014): 209–34.

Image: Christ Crucified with the Virgin, Saint John and Mary Magdalene (c.1617-19) Anthony van Dyck. Wikimedia Commons.