La Mantovana

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For the singer nicknamed "La Mantovana", see Anna Girò.

La Mantovana or "Il Ballo di Mantova" (Mantua Dance) is a popular sixteenth-century song attributed to the Italian tenor Giuseppe Cenci, also known as Giuseppino del Biado, (d. 1616)[1] to the text "Fuggi, Fuggi, Fuggi da questo cielo". Its earliest known appearance in print is in del Biado's 1600 collection of madrigals. The melody, later also known as Ballo di Mantova or Aria di Mantova gained wide currency in Renaissance Europe, being recorded variously as the Scottish My mistress is prettie, the Polish Pod Krakowem, Spanish Virgen de la Cueva and the Ukrainian Kateryna Kucheryava. It is best known as the melody of Bedřich Smetana's Vltava and of the Israeli national anthem Hatikvah.

Appearances in classical music[edit]

“La Mantovana" appears in “Il Scolaro" by Gasparo Zanetti, 1645, as “Ballo di Mantua” in “Duo Tessuti con diversi Solfeggiamenti, Scherzi, Perfidie et Oblighi" by Giuseppe Giamberti in 1657, and as “An Italian Rant” in John Playford's “Dancing Master".

"Fuggi, fuggi, dolente cor," a version of the madrigal setting, provides the source material for Biagio Marini's 1655 trio sonata in G minor (Op. 22, “Sonata Sopra 'Fuggi dolente core'”).[2]

Camille Saint-Saëns quotes this tune in the third movement of Rhapsodies sur des cantiques bretons, Op. 7.

The melody was also then famously used by the Czech composer Bedřich Smetana in his symphonic poem Vltava (The Moldau) from his cycle celebrating Bohemia, Má vlast:

Vltava Smetana fragment.svg

Jewish immigrant Samuel Cohen from Moldavia adapted a Romanian version of the song as the setting for Hatikvah, later recognized by the state of Israel as its national anthem.[3]


  1. ^ John Walter Hill. ""Cenci, Giuseppe" In Grove Music Online: Cenci, Giuseppe". Oxford Music Online. Oxford University Press. Retrieved February 21, 2010. (subscription required (help)). 
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