DOWLAND IN ITALIA (Dowland in Italy) The imaginary diary of John Dowland’s journey in Italy – an Italy of landscapes and emotions, different foods, causal encounters and missed appointments.
My Most Magnificent and Obedient Lord, I have learned from a letter by Signor Alberigo Malvezi of the courteous affection with which you have expressed a desire to form the bonds of friendship with me, whereby I thank you infinitely for your good will, and offer myself for such an encounter if I may be in any way of service, for the merits of your infinite virtues and qualities warrant that all men, and I myself, should admire and obey you; and finally, I kiss your hands. From Rome, 13 June 1595. From Your Lord’s Most Affectionate Servant, LUCA MARENZIO
This letter, cited in the preface to Dowland’s First Booke of Songs or Ayres, published in London in 1597, bears the signature of one of Italy’s greatest composers, and one with whom John Dowland could boast a bond of friendship. It also testifies to the fame enjoyed by the latter, a figure of a restless and melancholic character. It was also because of certain events attributed to somewhat murky political and religious associations that Dowland decided to undertake a voyage which would keep him away from the insular borders of England for some time. Following Luca Marenzio’s invitation, and moved by the curiosity to meet him, Dowland set off for Italy in the hopes of cultivating the cultural milieu into which the great madrigal composer could have easily introduced him. But it was fated that the two men would never meet. Marenzio was in Rome when Dowland crossed the border into Italy. The Englishman, after having wandering through the country for a lengthy period of time visiting Florence, Venice and Genoa, decided to go to Rome, but was urgently called back to his homeland and thus hastily abandoned his plans to travel to the eternal city. Thus John Dowland and Luca Marenzio did not meet each other on that occasion, and another opportunity would never present itself.