The idea of recreating an accademia musicale (private concert) at the home of Roman artist/patron Pier Leone Ghezzi in 1723 and putting on works that might have been played at such an event is an intriguing one. Add to that that we were promised caricatures; Ghezzi being a noted pioneer of the form. Marco Cera, who conceived the show, seemed to be onto a good thing.
What we actually got wasn’t exactly what I expected. There were the musicians, including noted baroque soprano Roberta Invernizzi, impersonating Ghezzi’s guests; from Vivaldi to Farinelli, with Cera himself as Ghezzi. But there was also Ghezzi’s servant, played as Harlequin, acted by Dino Gonçalves. The show was heavy on Harlequin’s cheeky chappy clowning which was, as the lemur put it, like “watching Jerry Lewis channelling Roger Rabbit”. Not really my thing.
The Talisker Players’ latest show is pretty typical of what they do best; partner with some excellent singers and an actor to create an interesting program of words and music on a given theme. Last night, as the title suggests, the theme was classical mythology; a rich enough seam for almost anything! Most of the musical works chosen were twentieth century or later with only excerpts from a Pergolesi cantata harking back to an era that drew more heavily on these sources.
The first piece was Alan Hovhaness’ Hercules for soprano and violin performed by Carla Huhtanen and Elizabeth Loewen Andrews. This was so very Hovhaness; haunting, disturbing and very beautiful. It seems as rooted in the pre-classical world as the Heroic Age but perhaps that’s just a kind of timelessness. It’s a perfect fit for Carla and the violin playing was beautiful too.
Pergolesi’s relatively popular comedy La serva padrona was originally intended to be performed as an intermezzo for his opera seria Il prigionier superbo. It’s therefore fitting that recordings by substantially the same forces, though recorded two years apart, should be released as a package. The recordings were made at the Teatro G.B. Pergolesi in Jesi in 2009 and 2011 respectively. Both performances were directed by Henning Brockhaus and feature the Accademia Barocca di I Virtuosi Italiani conducted by Corrado Rovaris. The works are presented on separate disks rather than the having the two halves of the intermezzo inserted in the intervals of the more serious work as they would originally have been performed.
Needing something suitable to celebrate Britten’s 100th birthday I decided to go and see the National Ballet’s new show Innovation which premiered last night and included a piece set to the Four Sea Interludes from Peter Grimes. A Pergolesi Stabat Mater with Emma Kirkby and Daniel Taylor was a considerable additional attraction. I’m not a dance expert so take any comments on that subject that follow as the impressions of a complete non-expert.