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Orlando di Lasso - possibly born around 1532, but definitely died June 14, 1594 - (a.k.a. Orlande de Lassus, Roland de Lassus, Orlandus Lassus, Orlande de Lattre, Roland de Lattre, or just "Lassus")

The first thing to consider about "Lassus," a Belgian by birth, is that he was reportedly kidnapped three times as a young boy due to his extraordinary singing voice. While there is no real evidence of this, had it happened, one has to think it deeply formative, even for the sixteenth century. Eventually taken to Sicily at the age of twelve, and then Milan, he came under the tutelage of madrigalist Spirito l'Hoste da Reggio Bouncing around Italy as a singer and composer - notably taking what was to become Palestrina's position of  maestro di cappella in 1553 - he seems to have taken a kind of gap year or two in France and England,  showed up in Antwerp for a bit, and finally settled in Munich, working for Albrecht V, Duke of Bavaria,  and marrying a duchess' daughter and maid of honour called Regina Wackinger (make of that what you will). 

The second thing to consider is that regardless of the sketchiness of his reported history and musical training, Lassus became a rock star, and incredibly prolific, composing some 2,000 works in Latin, French, German, and Italian vocal genres. There's a decent summary of what we know here, for some further reading. 

Matona, mia cara

This is actually a type of villanella - a kind of simplistic parody of the madrigal -  called a tedescha, traditionally sung in a German accent (something we will not attempt). Essentially the 16th Century version of a dirty joke, it mocks German "lancers" (yep; read into that) and their crude attempts at seducing Italian ladies, using mispronunciations, invented words and bad grammar as ridicule of this behaviour.  Lassus re-writes old music into short verses, punctuating them with a simple-minded "diri-diri don don don" to drive the point home. Translations vary, and the one we're using has been summarily sanitized. If you're really interested, be warned that googling the original words might trigger your 'safe search' settings. 

O occi manza mia

This is - albeit graphic, in an old-timey way - a clodpate's love song, and another villanella, this time making fun of Spaniards keen on, once again, getting lucky with Italian women. Martha Farahat, in Villanescas of the Virtuosi: Lasso and the Commedia dell'arte calls it: "a simple syllabic setting of a text which mocks a madrigalian conceit by eulogizing less than elegantly the parts of the female form. Its excessive use of reflexive pronouns is doubtless meant to suggest ignorance of Italian grammar." Once again, our translation has been massaged to the point where it comes off as kind of sweet. Though "Oh mouth like sugarloaf, oh throat, that brings crowds in to suckle" is pretty clunky, and unarguably suggestive.

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