John Wilbye, considered the greatest of the Elizabethan madrigalists, spent his entire working life in the service of Sir Thomas and Lady Elizabeth Kytson at Hengrave Hall in Suffolk. This was not unusual – composers in the sixteenth century either worked for the Church or one of the great households. What is unusual is that after Wilbye’s second book of madrigals was published in 1609 he appears not to have composed anything else, yet Lady Elizabeth kept him on in the house until her death in 1628, showering him with gifts including the tenancy of the most prosperous sheep farm in the area.
So why, when Elizabeth died, did Wilbye throw all this up and spend the rest of his days with her daughter, the divorcee Lady Mary Darcy in Colchester? Why did he dedicate his second book of madrigals to the beautiful and notorious Lady Arbella Stewart? A collaboration with the internationally renowned vocal group; I Fagiolini, this sumptuously photographed film is a feast for movie fans and music lovers alike.
You can buy a DVD or visit The Arts Channel where you can make a one-off purchase to stream the film as often as you like for £6.99.