isabella round

In development : 2021

ISABELLA is a collaboration by composer Kate Moore and director Martin Butler based upon the surviving 13 poems of the Italian poet Isabella di Morra.

Isabella di Morra (1520-1546) is considered to be the first female Italian poet. In her short life she was persecuted as an outsider, imprisoned physically by her family and mentally by the restrictions of her gender and social standing.

ISABELLA honours the work of a powerful and groundbreaking artist, whose importance has been marginalised by a male written history. A female protagonist whose story and achievements go against the stereotype of what was acceptable for a woman in that period.

ISABELLA represents the futility of situations and desperation of the mind caught in confinement. The pain of solitude and isolation, the conflict between modernity and tradition, between duty and desire, between expectations and acceptance, and the restriction of female expression and equality are powerful themes in the work of Isabella di Morra that can be translated readily to a modern world.

ISABELLA strives not only to rediscover the literary importance of the work of di Morra, but to extend it in within a contemporary context.

In a post Covid-19 world, Di Morra’s poetry could be seen as a uniting voice of shared experience. With its topics of isolation, confinement, and of powerlessness to a greater forces, her poetry can be read with an extra sense of urgency and poignancy.

The piece is written for Italian baroque harp specialist Maximilian Ehrhardt, Herz ensemble, choral ensemble Wishful Singing, Ensemble Scordatura.

Her poetry acts as the libretto and driving force behind the project with the role of Isabella being shared between the singers .

isabella round


SUBJECT: Isabell di Morra

LIBRETTO: 13 poems by Isabella di Morra in Italian

COMPOSER: Kate Moore

DIRECTION: Martin Butler

DURATION: 70 Minutes

NUMBER OF PLAYERS: 20 musicians


Maximilian Ehrhardt: Solo triple harp

Wishful Singing; 2 Sopranos, mezzo-soprano, 2 alt

Herz Ensemble: Counter tenor, violin, viola, cello, organ, wood horn, percussion, saxophone, pan-pipes.

Ensemble Scordatura: Altered viola, chromelodeon, kithara, diamond marimba, voice

Sound Engineer: Rick Hendricks

Lighting Technician: TBC