In 1638, when he was 71 years old, Claudio Monteverdi published in Venice his 8th book of madrigals, the last to be published during his lifetime, under the idiosyncratic title “Madrigals of war and love with some pieces in the theatrical style paced as short episodes between songs without jests” (Madrigali guerrieri, et amorosi: con alcuni opuscoli in genere rappresentativo che saranno per brevi episodii frà i canti senza gesto). This book, the most expansive among the eight books of madrigals published by Monteverdi, was dedicated by the composer to the Holy Roman Emperor, Ferdinand III. Three years later, in 1641, two years before his death, Monteverdi published his last and monumental collection of sacred music, titled also somewhat enigmatically – “The moral and spiritual forest” (Selva morale e spirituale). This collection was dedicated to Eleonora Gonzaga, Ferdinand III’s mother, and widow of the previous Holy Roman Emperor, Ferdinand II. These two collections are remarkably large and varied in musical styles and textual sources, mixing old and new, sacred and secular. Both collections stand out in the pervasion of the operatic and stage music into the unexpected realms of madrigal and sacred music, and in the intensive use of vocal and instrumental sonorous and timbral effects. Like many other masterpieces, these collections are characterized by complexity and certain enigmatic ambiguousness, prone to various interpretations and enable many different points of view. A variety of such complementary and intersecting views on these two collections will be introduced and discussed in this course, while suggesting new insights concerning the works in their various contexts.