Notes and Editorial Reviews
British vocal ensemble I Fagiolini stage a live performance of the commedia dell'arte classic L'AMFIPARNASO, an Italian Renaissance play blending music, slapstick, and romance. Directed by London theater producer Peter Wilson, the production features guest musicians Eligio Quinteiro and Steven Devine as well as comic narration by actor Simon Callow (SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE, AMADEUS).
R E V I E W S:
Until his time (1597), madrigals were “Petrarchan” musical settings of exalted, refined, lyrical poetry. For the first time, the madrigal would be a “Bernescan” musical setting of popular, rustic, even grotesque verse. Oddly for a visual representation of the performance that this DVD gives us, Orazio Vecchi insisted that
“the spectacle is apprehended by the mind, into which it enters by the ears and not by the eyes.”
But here, for eye as well as ear, we have a performance in the Great Hall and on the grounds of the Dartington Hall estate in Devon. Four singers divide all the named roles among themselves, with half a dozen ensemble singers and a continuo of lute and harpsichord. Costumes and masks are used with minimal scenery on a little stage. Vecchi’s commentary, recited in German on earlier recordings (on the Deller Consort and Beuerle’s Frankfurt recordings), is rendered in clever English rhymed couplets by Simon Callow, sitting off to the side. (The words are credited to Timothy Knapman, a sparkling accomplishment that the audience appreciated.)
That leaves me with the sinking feeling that there is more bawdy humor in this piece than I cared to experience or expected the pious canon to deliver. The performers (I can’t simply call them singers) make the most of the work, and if you like this sort of thing, you’ll just revel in it. The production is top-notch, captured before a live and appreciative audience. There are several bonus tracks on the disc, including a lecture by Hollingworth. The booklet is informative and includes the libretto with three translations. This is done about as well as such a thing can be done.
J. F. Weber, FANFARE
Works on This Recording
L'Amfiparnaso by Orazio Vecchi
Written: 1597; Italy
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