La musica sacra e profana del Chantor Antonio Zachara da Teramo
Je suy Navvré tant Fort/Gnaff’a le Guagnele Antonio Zachara da Teramo (ca. 1360/after 1413)
Deduto sey a quel che mai non fusti Zachara
Deduto sey (instrumental) Anonymous (cod. Faenza 117)
Un Fior Gentil m’apparse Zachara/Anonymous (cod. Faenza 117)
Gloria Un Fior Gentil Zachara
Tre Fontane (instrumental) Anonymous (cod. London add.29987)
Ad ogne vento come foglia Zachara
Credo Du Vilage Zachara
Cacciando per gustar/Ai Cenci, ai toppi Zachara
J’aime la Biauté Anonymous (cod. Faenza 117)
Movit’a Pietade Zachara
Sumite Karissimi Zachara
Deus Deorum Pluto Zachara
Credo Deus Deorum Zachara
Antonio Zachara da Teramo (ca. 1360/dopo 1413) è – insieme a Johannes Ciconia e Matteo da Perugia – uno dei musicisti eminenti della tarda Ars Nova italiana. La sua musica presenta una varietà di stili, registri e forme la più ampia possibile. Sappiamo per certo che fu uno dei compositori più prolifici, talentuosi e ampiamente diffuso e copiato del suo tempo. Ma la musica non era la sola arte in cui eccelleva. Infatti nel 1390 è detto essere ‘optimo perito et famoso cantore, scriptore et miniatore’. Ancora nel XVIII secolo era conosciuto come un Still in the 18th century he was known as an “exceptionally successful composer and elegant scribe who was small in stature (apparently the reason for the sobriquet Zacara), with only ten digits on his hands and feet combined” – details confirmed by the portrait of him in the Squarcialupi Codex which appears here on the program. As a singer he was employed in the papal chapel, and still in 1463, far after his death, “his compositions were considered oracles”.
His secular and sacred works are equally important and developed. Enigma Fortuna focuses on his songs and points out two main features of his style: Fortune and Riddles. His entire secular production has been described as “Variations on the theme of Fortune”, since in most of his songs he speaks about Fortune. The way he refers to it varies from a direct and violent accusation in Dime, Fortuna (Tell me, Fortune) with references to historical events crossed with his biography, to his tears caused by advers Fortune (the touching and beautiful elegy on the death of his son Plorans ploravi and Nuda non era) to a self-ironic fake dialogue full of satyrical elements (Deduto sey) together with more conventional references to the wheel of Fortune (Ad ogni vento). These compositions are very different in tone and style but almost all contain several informations on Zacara’s biography. He seems to draw inspiration from his own personal tragedies, a definitely modern attitude, one could say. These biographical details are often disguised and sometimes hidden by riddles, allegories, games with words, arcane idioms (from cultivated latin to dialects): Zacara’s enigmas. Antonio was without any doubt an “eccentric personality who enjoied criptic games with words and numbers”. But his oddity also goes with a taste for the game, a certain gaiety which gives to his riddles a peculiar and easily noticeable taste. This is evident in Ciaramella, me dolçe Ciaramella and in Je sui Navvré tan fort/Gnaff’a le guagnele where he uses anagrams and signs his name (Saccra) as he does also in Deus deorum or in Sumite Karissimi. This last composition is a summa of Zacara’s experimentalism: the text is basically consituted by the instruction to solve the riddle (solution is Recomendatio: and reveals it as an hommage that Zacara probably offers to the papal chapel) and the music is as demanding, experimental, bold (subtilis as they would have said) as it can be (probably the most difficult piece of music of the entire Ars Nova, with rhythms that reappear only with 20th century avantgardes).
Zacara’s oddity and audacity was to remain without heirs as generally late ars nova style, but his steady use of imitation and canonic techniques, his strong sense of form, the omorhytmic sections and a “popular” taste in language, subjects and rhythms – without speaking of the huge contribute he gave in building the mass movements polyphony preceding Ciconia, Bartholomeo da Bologna and Dufay – makes him probably the composer who could better anticipate the new styles and tendencies of the 15th century and so finding good fortune in the dawn of Renaissance.