Within Two Walls

March 8th, 2019

soprano, flute, cello, harpsichord (or piano)

Molly Netter, voice
Melissa Baker, flute
Ezra Seltzer, cello
Avi Stein, harpsichord

St. Paul’s Chapel of Trinity Church in NYC


This work was commissioned by Trinity Wall Street Church in Manhattan for a concert titled “Lagrime Mie,” curated by Melissa Baker and Molly Netter. “Lagrime Mie” explores the female perspective in composition, particularly the raw evocation of emotion heard in the music of the famous Baroque artist, Barbara Strozzi (1619-1677), who broke through gender barriers to become the most successful composer of secular vocal music in Venice in her time. Works by Strozzi and several of her contemporaries are paired with world premieres of Trinity-commissioned works focusing on empowering female voices.

Within Two Walls is a reworking of the translated text from Strozzi’s “Lagrime mie.” In the song, the singer longs for a day where she can free her inner pain by finally crying and letting it all out—and goes further, wondering if she would be better off dead. I find the most compelling part is the recognition of her own role in creating her misery, which is true for so many people throughout time. The sounds I chose were inspired by the episodic form and expressive baroque gestures found in the original Strozzi song but many ideas were also filtered through my love for both tragic opera and pop/rock.


Translated text from Barbara Strozzi’s “Lagrime mie,” adapted by Jessica Meyer:

My tears,
my tears,
my tears,
why do you hold back?

Why won’t you burst forth with the fierce pain
that takes my breath and oppresses my heart?

Lidia, whom I so adore,
with that pitiful gaze she shot me,
her severe father
imprisoned her within two walls

Closed in,
is that beautiful innocent one,
where a ray of sun cannot reach.

What most pains me,
and increases my torment,
is that I was the reason
my good proved bad

I was the reason…
my good proved bad

And you,
pained eyes,
do not cry tears.
Why do you hold back?

Alas, how I miss my Lidia,
my idol, whom I so adore.
She’s trapped
within hard marble walls for which I sigh
yet I do not die.

If death might be granted to me
now that I am deprived of hope…

Come on!
Take my life!
I beg of you…relieve me of my sufferings!

I am well aware
that in order to torture me even more
fate denies me even death.

oh God…
it’s true….
Oh God,
it’s true!!

Vicious Destiny thirsts only for my wailing.

My tears,
My tears,
My tears,
why do you hold…