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Magnificat
a blog about the ensemble Magnificat and the art and culture of the 17th Century
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Magnificat’s first season of concerts was such fun, plans began immediately for a second season. This time the emphasis was on the 17th century innovations in setting dramatic narrative to music. Three programs were presented and again each program was performed in San Jose, Berkeley and San Francisco.

The season opened in October with dramatic works by Henry Purcell including the masque written for inclusion in a revival of Shakespeare’s Timon of Athens. Inspired perhaps by the proximity of the concerts to Halloween, the program featured the dramatic scena In Guilty Night, Purcell’s setting of the biblical story of Saul’s encounter with the Witch of Endor, which featured Sand Dalton’s first (and most likely only) performance on the thunder machine – a 6×4 piece of sheet metal that created just the right spooky mood. This would not be the last use of unlikely percussion in a Magnificat production.

In December, Magnificat assembled a program from the three surviving versions of Charpentier’s Nativity Pastorale, interspersing traditional noëls – a holiday tradition that would be re-visited several times over the years. This program immediately became a favorite of both musicians and audiences and we have revived it twice, with minor changes, in 1996 on the San Francisco Early Music Society series and on our own series in 2005. For this first production we were joined in these concerts by Marion Verbruggen, with whom we had performed at the 1990 Berkeley Festival and Exhibition.

With the December concerts, Magnificat settled on the full-size program format that plenty of room for program notes and texts and translations. The programs were still literally cut (with scissors) and pasted (well, taped) and photo-copied but the brochure was designed and laid out by Paul Tokmakian.

The extremely successful final concert of the first season had included some acting and minimal sets and costumes, so for the final program of the season, Magnificat presented a fully-staged production of Emilio de’ Cavalieri’s La Rappresentatione di Anima e di Corpo – and fully-staged it was, with winged blessed spirits in heaven, damned spirits in flame red body suits and gruesome fingernails in Hell, all accompanied by a colorful instrumental ensemble that included The Whole Noyse.

Over the course of the season, artistic directors Susan Harvey and Warren Stewart led ensembles that included René Boutet, Tina Chancey, Hugh Davies, Rob Diggins, John Dornenburg, Elizabeth Engan, Ruth and Steve Escher, Richard Van Hessel, Julie Jeffrey, Roxanne Layton, Andrew Morgan, Susan Rode Morris, Herb Myers, Gayle and Phil Neumann, Ray Nurse, Marianne Richer-Pfau, Neal Rogers, Michael Sand, Sandy Stadtfeld, and Nat Watson.

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As he entered his eighth decade, Monteverdi set about assembling his eighth and largest collection of secular works, published in 1638 as Madrigali guerrieri et amorosi… and dedicated to the newly crowned Holy Roman Emperor Ferdinand III. As explained in the dedication, the collection was originally to have been dedicated to (and its publication funded by) his father, Ferdinand II, but as the elder Ferdinand passed away in 1636, the dedication passed to his heir.

I present to the feet of Your Majesty, as the protecting power of virtue, these my musical compositions. Fernando, Your Majesty’s great father, deigning, through his innate goodness, to accept and honour them in manuscript, granted me an as it were authoritative passport to entrust them to the press. And lo I eagerly publish them, consecrating them to the most revered name of Your Majesty, heir no less of kingdoms and the empire than of his valour and kindness.

Along with the change in dedication, Monteverdi modified some of the texts with references to the younger monarch, whose dual occupation in the military and musical composition made him an apt dedicatee for a volume of madrigals of war and love.

Ferdinand was born in Graz, Austria, the son of Emperor Ferdinand II in 1608, coincidentally the year of the first performance of Il Ballo delle Ingrate, which Monteverdi re-tooled for the Eighth Book of Madrigals and was most likely performed as part of the new emperor’s coronation festivities in 1637.  Ferdinand became King of Hungary in 1625, King of Bohemia in 1627 and Archduke of Austria in 1631, the year of his marriage to his first cousin Maria Anna, Infanta of Spain, the youngest daughter of Phillip III of Spain and Margaret of Austria.

After the death of Albrecht Wallenstein in 1634, Ferdinand was entrusted with supreme command of the Habsburg army and in the same year, together with his Spanish cousin, also a Ferdinand, he was credited with capture of Donauwörth and Regensburg, and the defeat the Swedes and their Protestant allies at the Battle of Nördlingen. As head of the peace party at court, he helped negotiate the Peace of Prague, with some of the Protestant states including Saxony in 1635. However, the horrific conflict now known as the Thirty Years War drug on for another decade – the lines of conflict no longer perceptible and the populace suffering terribly from the unrestrained violence and pillaging of the mercenary armies. Ferdinand played a crucial role in the diplomatic negotiations that eventually led to a cessation of hostilities with the Peace of Westphalia in 1648.

Ferdinand was an active patron of the arts and the first of several Habsburg emperors to compose music. In the abstract to his forthcoming book, Sacred Music as Public Image for Holy Roman Emperor Ferdinand III, Andrew Weaver observes that Ferdinand’s accomplishments came not through diplomacy or strong leadership but primarily through a skillful manipulation of the arts, through which he communicated important messages to his subjects and secured their allegiance to the Catholic Church.

“Ferdinand III offers a fascinating case study in monarchical representation, for the war necessitated that he revise the image he had cultivated at the beginning of his reign, that of a powerful, victorious warrior. Weaver argues that by focusing on the patronage of sacred music (rather than the more traditional visual and theatrical means of representation), Ferdinand III was able to uphold his reputation as a pious Catholic reformer and subtly revise his triumphant martial image without sacrificing his power, while also achieving his Counter-Reformation goal of unifying his hereditary lands under the Catholic church.”

In addition to sponsoring the composition and publication of numerous works of music, Ferdinand played an active part in the preparation of the great court festivities, especially stage works of various kinds, which were produced with the utmost magnificence in Vienna and elsewhere in his Habsburg domains. During the last years of his life Ferdinand founded a literary academy on the Italian model in Vienna.

Ferdinand III studied music with Giovanni Valentini, court composer to the Hapsburgs and Kapellmeister at the Michaelerkirche in Vienna. He also was a friend of Johann Jakob Froberger, who was also active at the Hapsburg court. Ferdinand’s allegorical Drama musicum was praised by Athanasius Kircher, who declared in his Musurgia universalis of 1650 that Ferdinand had ‘no equal among sovereigns’. Some secular pieces, including settings of Italian texts, and a number of sacred works of Ferdinand’s survive including two masses, four motets, ten hymns, litanies, a Stabat mater and a Miserere.

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It is satisfying that the composers featured in our first season: Claudio Monteverdi, Heinrich Schütz, Iacomo Carissimi and Marc-Antoine Charpentier and even some of the same masterpieces, notably Jephte and the Christmas Story, should also be featured in our 20th anniversary season. The genius of these composers, their innovations and  the tremendous influence they had on the music of the 17th century have inspired every program on every season that Magnificat has presented since and at least one has been featured on a program in every Magnificat season. In the years since that first season it has been a privilege to get to know these composers and to share their magnificent music with the many fine musicians who have been a part of Magnificat.

Encouraged by the success of our performance at the inaugural Berkeley Festival and Exhibition in 1990, chamber music performances at various venue – including a notable concert at The Musical Offering, also in 1990, and appearances on the San Francisco Early Music Society and The San Jose Chamber Music Society, Magnificat launched a subscription series in October, 1992. The season included three programs, each of which was performed in San Jose, Berkeley and San Francisco.

The first program was given the title “Heroes, Fools and Nymphs” and used Monteverdi’s  Chi vol’ che m’innamori as a framework for a mixed program of Italian vocal and instrumental gems – culminating in Carissimi’s oratorio Jephte, which will be on our November 11-13 program this season. Earlier in the program we performed Monteverdi’s Introduzione al Ballo, which we will revive in our February 17-19 program this season.

In December 1992 Magnificat joined with the San Francisco Early Music Society in a co-production of Heinrich Schütz’s Christmas Story. Schütz’s delightful setting of the Nativity narrative was placed in the liturgical context for which it was written, Christmas Vespers following the order of the Dresden Court Chapel. This was the first of many liturgical reconstructions that Magnificat has presented. It was also the first appearance with Magnificat of German baritone Martin Hummel in the role of the Evangelist. We will be reviving this program this December, again with SFEMS as we celebrate 20 seasons and SFEMS celebrates their 35th!

The final set of the 1992-1993 season, title “Saints and Buffoons,” focused on another composer that would become so important for Magnificat: Marc-Antoine Charpentier. In the first half of the program we performed sacred works from three genres: the psalm Super flumina Babilonis, the motet Oculi omnium, the histoire sacrée Le Reniement de St. Pierre. After intermission was devoted to incidental music Charpentier wrote for the Commedie française culminating with the uproarious Doctor Scene from Moliére’s La Malade Imaginaire.

Over the course of the season Artistic Directors Susan Harvey and Warren Stewart led ensembles that included Marilyn Boenau, René Boutet, Kenn Chester, John Dornenburg, Elizabeth Engan, Stephen Escher, Gerald Gaul, Nathan Gunn, Richard Van Hessel, Brian Howard, Martin Hummel, Boyd Jarrell, Claire Kelm, McDowell Kenley, Susan Rode Morris, Herbert Myers, Neal Rogers, Michael Sand, Foster Sommerlad, Sanford Stadtfeld, David Tayler, George Thomson, Arizeder Urreiztieta, Nathaniel Watson and Lisa Weiss.

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Bloomington Early Music Festival 2011Magnificat has been invited to perform selections from Monteverdi’s Eighth Book of Madrigals at the Bloomington Early Music Festival (BLEMF) this September. The concert will be on the evening of September 10 at the First United Church in Bloomington. Monteverdi subtitled his 1638 collection “Madrigals of War and Love” and the texts expound the interlocking themes of love and war– the warrior as lover, the lover as warrior and the war between the sexes. A perfect fit for the theme of this year’s Festival “Music in War, Music in Peace.”

From the Festival website:

“War and peace have been a part of human society for time immemorial, and for centuries composers have chosen to reflect them in their music. In selecting this theme for its festival, BLEMF links musical performance to scholarly research in the humanities, and in particular the disciplines of history, folklore, and linguistics.

For the past seventeen years, Early Music Associates, Inc. has encouraged and celebrated historically informed performance with an annual festival, seasonal concerts, numerous educational events in the immediate regions, and by committed support for emerging performing artists. The Bloomington Early Music Festival (BLEMF) traditionally presents concerts featuring the music of the Medieval, Renaissance, Baroque, and Classical periods.”

Magnificat’s program will include Altri canti d’Amor tenero arciero, Ogni amante e guerrier: nel suo gran regno, Introduzione al ballo, Altri canti di Marte e di sua schiera, Non Havea Febo ancora: Lamento della ninfa, and Il Ballo delle ingrate. Bay Area audiences will have the chance to hear Magnificat perform this program as part of our 2011-2012 season on the weekend of February 17-19 2012. For tickets and more information about the Bloomington Early Music Festival, please visit the Festival website.

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We’ve posted photos from our rehearsals of Vecchi’s L’Amfiparnaso with the Dell’Arte Company on our Flickr Page. Please have a look!

It has been a pleasure exploring this fascinating piece with actors so deeply grounded in the historical commedia dell’arte tradition. One by one the familiar characters – Pantalone, the Doctor, the Captain, and all the miscievous servants – have come to life through Vecchi’s entertaining and often deeply profound music.

Tickets are still available at http://magnificatbaroque.tix.com.

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The musical entertainment that has become known as the madrigal comedy enjoyed a brief, but exceedingly popular life in the decades before and after the turn of the 17th century, delighting audiences at courts and within the cultural academies of Italy with a mix of high art and low comedy. The musicologist Alfred Einstein coined the term “madrigal comedy” in 1949 as a description for the two dozen or so surviving collections of related madrigals, which, when sung consecutively, tell a story, often with a continuous dramatic plot.

The two composers most closely identified with this sub-genre are Orazio Vecchi and the slightly younger Adriano Banchieri. It has been tempting to see the madrigal comedy as a precursor to opera, but it is perhaps better characterized as part of the final flowering of the Renaissance madrigal tradition, incorporating the humanist attention to the communication of dramatic narrative through the quintessential musical form of the late 16th century.

Easily the best known of these madrigal comedies to modern audiences, L’Amfiparnaso was first performed in Modena in 1594 and published in Venice in 1597 with a dedication to Cardinal Alessandro d’Este. Vecchi’s collection (which he calls a “commedia harmonica”) consists of fourteen five-part madrigals, arranged in three acts and preceded by a prologue. Except for the first two sentences of the first scene, the dialogue is not set for individual voices, as in opera, but rather for the entire ensemble or for sub-sets of two, three or four voices.

Pantalone

This approach is so different from opera that is perhaps not surprising that the first music historians to discuss madrigal comedies found them entirely puzzling and either struggled to find in them nascent elements of operatic style or dismissed them entirely. A modern edition of L’Amfiparnaso was published in 1902 with several others following over the next century and subsequent scholarship, together with performances and recordings by fine musicians have secured its place among the masterpieces of the late Renaissance.

Each of the madrigals sets a scenario drawn from the Italian theater, known then as now as commedia dell’arte, a genre in its golden age at the end of the 16th century. Consistent with the commedia tradition, there is only a passing attempt at a regular plot: the jealous quarrel between Lucio and Isabella, their reconciliation and wedding is of comparatively slight importance and seems to serve primarily as a foil for the antics of the comic masked characters of Pantalone, the Doctor, the Captain and their quick-witted and mischievous servants.

The cast of L’Amfiparnaso includes Pantalone; an aging Venetian Magnifico who is by turns avaricious, suspicious, amorous and gullible. Pantalone is old and, though retired from active business, his long engagement with trade has made him acutely sensitive to the value of money. He is also a lecher, but entreaties for the favor of attractive young women, invariably involving catcalls and innuendoes, are invariably fruitless.

The Doctor

He is joined by his old friend Doctor Gratiano, a Bolognese lawyer, prone to malapropism and misunderstanding, described by Vecchi as a “blockhead who answers badly and hears still worse.” By tradition, when the Doctor was born, instead of crying like an ordinary infant, his first utterance was a fine Latin quotation, slightly mutilated.

Having grown up amid the rarified university atmosphere of Bologna, the Doctor is a member of every academy, known and unknown, the Doctor can discuss any topic with great erudition, though no one can understand, or even stay awake during his long-winded homilies.

No commedia would be complete with the Captain, a blustery Spanish-speaking braggart, always decked in ostentatious epaulets and menacing scabbard – a sort of Yosemite Sam character aptly described in a 17th century verse:

This Captain makes a splendid show,
And his valor is so great
That he is the last to join the combat
And the first to beat a retreat.

The Captain

As much of Italy was under the control of the Spanish army at the time and the actors no doubt took great delight – and some risk – in satirizing the occupying army.

The satire though, like all the mockery on the commedia, is light-hearted and evenly distributed. The characterization of the Hebrews, serving in the familiar role of pawn-brokers, focuses primarily on their exotic and unfathomable language and the strangeness of their chanting – no doubt a source of consternation and bemusement for the goyim – and fun had at their expense is in the same spirit as that taken from the Captain’s blustery Spanish, the Doctor’s over-ripe Bolognese, Pantalone’s mincing Venetian, and the Bergamask dialect of the servants Francatrippa and Zanni.

Besides Pantalone, Gratiano and the Captain, the characterizations in Vecchi’s libretto are somewhat compressed. The cast is filled out with a variety of servants, prostitutes and, of course the two pairs of lovers or innamorati. The unusually amorous Doctor Gratiano and Pantalone’s un-named daughter form a comic third pair of lovers. The composer explains in his preface that as a result of the prolixity of words united with music, his composition is like that of “a painter who, desiring to include a great many figures in a small canvas, forms the principal or most noteworthy ones with the entire bodies, and the less important as far as the chest, others barely visible by the top of the head, and finally mixes together the remainder of the multitude as if distant from the eye.”

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There is no indication of an author for the text of Vecchi’s L’Amfiparnaso, and some historians have speculated that the composer wrote the libretto himself. However, as early as 1912, the British musicologist Edward Dent suggested that the author may have been the popular Bolognese poet Giulio Cesare Croce.

Born in 1550 at San Giovanni in Persiceto, about 15 miles to the north-west of Bologna, the son of a blacksmith. After his father’s death when Croce was just seven he was adopted by an uncle who followed the same trade who sent him to school at Castelfranco.

Dent relates that the uncle finally realized that Giulio was learning nothing, and he brought him back to the smithy and the boy was adopted up by the noble family of Fantuzzi and was soon noted for his talents as cantastorie, singer and jester. This sort of life suited his tastes better than the trade of a blacksmith, and he finally ran away from his uncle altogether, and came to Bologna, sometime about the year 1586. Here he joined another smith, who shared his preference for good wine and merry living over hard work with hammer and anvil. In some way or other he seems to have learnt to read, for it was at this time that he began to study the works of Ovid.

There were several translations of Ovid then current, the most popular being that of Anguillara. Ovid, Croce tells us, was his first and only teacher. He took to playing the viol, and got the name of Croce della Lira; soon after his first marriage in 1575 he gave up the blacksmith’s trade altogether and devoted himself to poetry alone. His most generous patron seems to have been Cardinal Radziwill, who commissioned Lavinia Fon-tana to paint his portrait.

His fame reached to Mantua, Ferrara and Florence: after his death his works received high praise from various Italian historians of literature. The romantic enthusiasts of the nineteenth century devoted endless labour to the collection of the folk-songs that in various countries have sprung from the soil and have been handed down by generation after generation of the rural population. The poetry of humble life in the towns had no interest for them. It is to this latter class of literature that Croce’s works belong, a class that is represented at its best in the Canti carnascialeschi of Lorenzo de’ Medici and at its lowest in the vulgar riddles and ballads of criminal life that still delight the poorer inhabitants of Italian cities.

Croce wrote more than 400 works in both Italian and the Bolognese dialect. Despite his popularity and the relative success of his works, Croce dies in poverty in 1609.

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“I bringe you mine owne master Horatio Vecchi of Modena, beside goodness of aire, most pleasing of all other for his conceipt and variety, wherewith all his works are singularly beautified.” Henry Peacham, The Compleat Gentleman, 1622

Orazio Vecchi would no doubt be puzzled to learn that four centuries after his death he would be best remembered (to the extent that he was remembered at all) for a light-hearted piece of entertainment, L’Amfiparnaso, and not for his considerable accomplishments as a composer of sacred music and highly sophisticated madrigals. Not that he would have any difficulty in defending his less serious compositions.

In the dedication of the collection Selva di varia ricreatione from 1590 Vecchi wrote “I am well aware that on first hearing some may perhaps think these my caprices base and trivial. Let them learn that it takes just as much skill, art, and knowledge…to make a silly comic character as it does to create a prudent and sagely old man…and if some smart ass says that it is easy to come up with such things, let him try; he’ll see that it is easy to want ideas, hard to have them, harder still to arrange them, and even more difficult to put them all together well.”

Born in Modena in 1550, Vecchi received his first musical training from a Servite monk named Salvatore Essenga. He took orders at a Benedictine monastery at some point before 1577 and by the end of the 1579 his reputation as a musician was such that he was engaged, along with Claudio Merulo and Giovanni Gabrieli, to provide music for the wedding of Bianca Capello and Grand Duke Francesco de’ Medici. In that same year his first publication, a collection of eight voice motets, appeared in Venice. He served as maestro di capella first at the cathedral in Salò from 1581-4 and then at Modena from 1584-86. After a brief tenure at the cathedral of Reggio nell’Emilia, he accepted an appointment as canon at Correggio Cathedral. In a humorous autobiographical document that Vecchi wrote in 1587, he makes reference to the financial hardships and family responsibilities, which would burden him throughout his life.

In 1591, Vecchi was selected, together with Gabrieli and Lodovico Balbi, to revise and correct the Roman Gradual and in the same year he was elevated to the title of archdeacon. From Corregio he moved to the ducal court in Modena in 1593, the year before the first performances of L’Amfiparnaso. He was also admitted into the brotherhood of the Annunciation in the churches of S Maria and S Pietro, where he directed the music on various special occasions.

Vecchi was denied the of post of Maestro di Cappella at the Duomo of Modena by the appointment of the organist Fabio Richetti, which apparently caused considerable resentment. Apparently, simmering hostilities erupted during Mass at the Church of St. Augustine on April 21, 1596. Spaccini, a writer at the time, reported that the two organists obstenately played two different works simultaneously – an anecdote that, while disputed by other contemporaries, has led some historians to characterize Vecchi as a defiant and difficult personality. His involvement in the sordid affairs of his brother, accused of a triple murder, no doubt contributed to this undeserved picture picture of Vecchi’s character.

In 1603 the general council of Modena granted Vecchi a generous stipendium in recognition of his “rare abilities” and later the same year the imperial ambassador came to Modena to offer Vecchi the position of maestro at the court of Emperor Rudolph II, in succession to Monte. Unfortunately, Vecchi’s health was already failing him and he was unable to accept the position. He continued composing and directing in Modena until his death in 1605.

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One of the story lines that give Vecchi’s madrigal comedy L’Amfiparnaso unity is Pantalone’s promise of his daughter’s hand in marriage to the Doctor Gratiano in the opening scene of Act II. Almost every commedia dell’arte scenario involves some such arrangement between the miserly Pantalone and  his blustery companion from Bologna, though most often the contract is between their offspring.

In Vecchi’s setting, Pantalone is, as usual, primarily concerned with the dowry (which he dutifully deposits in the third act) and he openly mocks the Doctor’s enthusiasm for the match. While the unfortunate daughter never appears vocally in the course of L’Amfiparnaso, she is understood to be in the balcony while the Doctor serenades her with one of his “favorites”, which turns out to be a parody, a travesty really, of Cipriano de Rore’s madrigal Ancor che col partire. This most famous of madrigal, for which there were more than 50 – far more serious – parodies in the 16th century, would have been very familiar to Vecchi’s audience, who would no doubt have found the altered text quite amusing indeed.

Vecchi takes the upper part of Cipriano’s four part madrigal and gives it three new supporting parts. The text is in Bolognese dialect of course – a constant source of humor for the commedia actors of the time along with Venetian, Bergamask, Neapolitan and any other dialect. (The refined Tuscan of Petrarch is reserved for the lovers.) There is no way of capturing the original humor in translation, but Cecil Adkins has done a commendable job in his edition of L’Amfiparnaso.

Ancor che col partire
Although on my leaving
I feel myself grieving,
Departure I treasure,
It gives me such pleasure
To come back to stay.
A thousand times each day,
To leave you I yearn,
So sweet is my return.

Ancor ch’al parturire (from L’Amfiparnaso)
Even in life’s midst so dear
One feels the shades of death too near.
I would like without the pain
To have, Vicenze, the joys again.
But spirits give me awful sorrow,
And yet I drink in such great haste,
Forgetting the torments of the morrow,
So sweet is the eructed taste.

The original Italian verse was written by Alfonso d’Avalos, the parody, like the rest of L’Amfiparnaso, was written by Giovanni Cesare Croce. (The identity of ‘Vicenze’ is not entirely clear from the context.) In spite of the less than serious text, Vecchi’s setting is exquisite and demonstrates, as do the lovers’ madrigals throughout L’Amfiparnaso, Vecchi’s considerable stature as a composer. On Magnificat’s program, Nigel North will also perform a solo lute setting of Cipriano’s madrigal by G. P. Paladino.

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Joseph Sargent has written an excellent preview of our upcoming performances of L’Amfiparnaso, March 18-20 for the San Francisco Classical Voice.

No one can accuse the Baroque ensemble Magnificat of lacking a sense of drama. Back in 2009, the ensemble made an unlikely pairing with the Carter Family Marionettes in Francesca Caccini’s La Liberazione di Ruggiero dall’ Isola d’Alcina. In its upcoming March 18-20 concert set, a staging of Orazio Vecchi’s madrigal comedy L’Amfiparnaso (The Twin Peaks of Parnassus), Magnificat continues the theatrics by collaborating with three theater artists from the Dell’Arte Company for what’s sure to be a high-spirited affair.

Madrigal comedies — collections of madrigals strung together by a common narrative — enjoyed a brief vogue in late 16th-century Italy, and L’Amfiparnaso ranks among the genre’s masterworks. This collection of 14 five-voice madrigals tells a conventional love story in the commedia dell’arte tradition, with plenty of good humor thrown in. As Joe Dieffenbacher, one of the three Dell’Arte players, observes, “The commedia style is known for its bawdy, rough-and-tumble humor. The madrigals are quite lovely, the voices sweet and playful. Together, Magnificat and Dell’Arte will present a show that marries the best of both.”

Staging was not part of Vecchi’s original plan; to the contrary, the prologue to L’Amfiparnaso calls the collection “a spectacle which is witnessed through the imagination, that penetrates the ear and not the eye.” But contemporary composers like Banchieri did stage their madrigal comedies, and for modern audiences a dose of theatrics makes the puns and other cultural references of Vecchi’s time easier to understand. “At the time when L’Amfiparnaso was written, commedia was one of the most popular theater forms in Italy, so combining the madrigals with this very physical style of theater was inevitable,” says Dieffenbacher. “The audience is given a treat for the ears and eyes: fine music and the visual play of masked and colorfully costumed characters, with a few acrobatic tricks thrown in.” Read the Full Preview at San Francisco Classical Voice

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