Asked to choose an Elizabethan text on the theme of love, I found a poem by Elizabeth I herself that proved to be the perfect choice.
Although many love poems from this period approach the subject of love by alluding to Greek deities or waxing excessively rhapsodic, Elizabeth’s poem On Monsieur’s Departure is different. It expresses the feeling of loving someone and being unable to show it. Perhaps it is an unrequited love that the beloved knows nothing about. Perhaps it is a shared love which must remain secret. Whatever the reason, the subject of the poem cannot express this love publicly, and must maintain a very different facade—a duality that is reflected in the music through the frequent use of octaves and other ways of dividing the ensemble. To me, this text resonates with anyone who has loved and dared not speak it.
On Monsieur’s Departure was commissioned by musica intima, and is dedicated to intima’s glorious and inspiring voices. (JR)