The Italian Feast

A sensual, staged concert experience with Italian carnival music of the 17th Century

Balthasar-Neumann-Ensemble and choir
Thomas Hengelbrock, concept and conductor
Petra Weikert, stage direction and costumes

Italian Carnival Music
When it’s carnival time all daily routine is thrown aside, rules and regulations are ignored and fantasy and licentiousness triumph over rationality and law and order. The carnivals in Florence, Mantua, Napels and Venice during the sixteenth century have become legendary for their salaciousness and eventfulness. A tremendous flood of music emerged from carnivals which is highlighted in operas, madrigals and “canti carnevaleschi”. Many frivolous and riotous texts were only permitted to be composed and sung at carnival times: several instrumental pieces demonstrate through their energetic dancing rhythm the nearness to simple folkloric art and to public festivities.

The Italian carnivals has inspired Thomas Hengelbrock and his Balthasar-Neumann-Ensemble to conceptionalize an unusual concert programme:

A staged concert with 28 singers and instrumentalists performing madrigals, operatic scenes, instrumental ballets, masquerades and so on from Orazio Vecchi, Giovanni Croce, Claudio Monteverdi, Francesco Cavalli and Dario Castello. The vitality and allure of that period will be portrayed and transformed into a lively and exciting present day. The performers, in masks and costumes, will move throughout the whole auditorium (depending on its potentialities) involving audience participation. A lighting designer will inspect the auditorium’s possibilities before the project begins and will provide atmospheric lighting effects.