Rius Valor, P. (2020). “supliant d’un loial cueur”: Puns, Power, and Patronage in Early Modern Bavaria. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.14418/wes01.1.2173
Part of what distinguishes the composer Orlando di Lasso (1530/32–1594) from his contemporaries of equivalent renown is his characteristic sense of humor. At times, his pervasive use of wit was a source of contention, particularly when it permeated his liturgical music. Parody masses featuring scatological and lewd quotations, such as Missa super Je ne mange poinct du porcq (I never eat pork) and Missa super Entre vous filles de quinze ans (Among you fifteen-year-old girls), raised several eyebrows in their time. And yet this aspect of Lasso’s career has, to date, received little scholarly attention. Biographers have perhaps inevitably allotted proportional time to the overwhelmingly sacred aspect of his surviving oeuvre. Lasso is still widely performed today, in concerts as well as in religious contexts, but any perusal of discographies or concert programs reveals a predominant focus on his sacred music. Rarely, is Lasso placed in the company of the sixteenth-century madrigalists in our cultural imagination. He is seen, or rather heard, as a composer better suited to the liturgy than to leisure pursuits. This is surprising given that, over the course of his career, Lasso’s wittiness played a crucial role in his achieving success. Through calculated use of humor, Lasso constructed a concurrently learned yet comical persona.