Europa Rossi

Singer
Late 16th-early 17th century

Also know as Madama Europa. She was a female singer in the Gonzaga family court of Mantua, Italy in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. Europa was the sister of composer and musician Salamone Rossi, and the wife of the Jewish community leader David Ben Elisha. She had two sons, Bonaiuto and Angelo. She is considered to be the only professional Jewish female singer of her time, and the first to gain fame outside the Jewish community.

Not much is known about Madama Europa, as the information comes from court salary records, and from letters of people who saw her concerts. Judith Pinnolis, in Encyclopedia Judaica, brings up several assumptions about her life, suggesting that she sang in women's vocal ensembles and played an accompanying instrument such as the lute. A known assumption is that Madama Europa borrowed her stage name while singing "The Rape of Europa," by Giovanni Gastoldi, at a famous performance in 1608, as part of the festivities for the marriage between the crown prince Francesco Gonzaga and the Margherita of Savoy. Don Harrán, however, disputes this assumption, stating that she was known as Madama Europa already in the late 1580's, and that in fact Europa was a name occasionally given to girls in Italy at the time.

Sources:

Pinnolis, Judith. "Rossi, Madama Europa de'." Encyclopaedia Judaica. Eds. Michael Berenbaum and Fred Skolnik. Vol. 17. 2nd ed. Detroit: Macmillan Reference USA, 2007. 

Harrán, Don. "Madama Europa, Jewish singer in late Renaissance Mantua." in Festa Musicologica: Essays in Honor of George J. Buelow. ed. Mathiesen, Thomas J, Benito V. Rivera, and George J. Buelow. Stuyvesant, NY: Pendragon Press, 1995. pp. 197-233

Taitz, Emily, Henry, Sondra, and Tallan, Cheryl. The JPS Guide to Jewish Women 600 B.C.E-1900 C.E. Philadelphia: The Jewish Publication Society, 2003 

Dubrov, Andy. "The Barrocade Ensemble Presents: Music from the Ghetto of 16th Century Italy." Jewish-Theatre website; "Salamone Rossi." Music Academy Online.


Judith Pinnolis, "Rossi, Madama Europa de,'" Encyclopaedia Judaica, Eds. Michael Berenbaum and Fred Skolnik, Vol. 17. 2nd ed. (Detroit: Macmillan Reference USA, 2007), 473, 22 vols. 

Harrán, Don. "Madama Europa, Jewish singer in late Renaissance Mantua." in Festa Musicologica: Essays in Honor of George J. Buelow. ed. Mathiesen, Thomas J, Benito V. Rivera, and George J. Buelow. Stuyvesant, NY: Pendragon Press, 1995. pp. 197-233

 

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