Now that heaven and earth and wind are silent / And sleep calms the wild animals and birds / the night leads its starry wagon on the train ... “Claudio Monteverdi has the verses of Francesco Petrarch in the six-part madrigal with instruments to a song deeper Longing shaped.
It marks the beginning of a night piece that added a special facet to this year's Aix-en-Provence Music Festival;
Another night piece, Richard Wagner's “Tristan und Isolde”, will be discussed later.
In front of the charming eighteenth-century theater Jeu de Paume, connoisseurs (male, female, diverse) of early music gather to hear works by Monteverdi, Cavalli, Rossi, Merula from a truly flourishing phase of musical poetry and drama. The subject of “night, death and mourning” does not mean the monotony of the affects, quite the opposite. The musical director of the Montage, Sébastien Daucé, has put together a variety of treasures from rich baroque literature.
There is the great scene “Il Combattimento di Tancredi e Clorinda” based on Torquato Tasso's “The Liberated Jerusalem”, a forcing ride of great emotions in the music of Monteverdi (1624, printed 1638).
The fight of the crusader Tankred with the pagan - and lover - Clorinda, hidden in male armor, once moved the humanistically educated audience to tears.
The rapporteur (Testo) has the most prominent role, but the instruments play the heartfelt shaping of anger, struggle, fright, the peace that has finally been found.
Tension between death and the hope of salvation
With lively diction and a sonorous, dark voice, the tenor Valerio Contaldo conquered the role of Testo. First the hostile juxtaposition of the opponents, then a magical pause while conjuring up the night: “O night that you covered up the heroic deed with oblivion in the deep dark”, an ornate song, the intensity of which is reminiscent of Orfeo's singing in the face of the underworld. It is followed by the gestural portrayal of furious sword blows, in hard blows and the fastest tone repetitions. For the first time in music history, Monteverdi used violent pizzicati and tremoli to increase the drama. In the wonderful acoustics of the small theater, the Correspondances ensemble is physically close.
The relentless struggle is followed by a surprising twist: Clorinda, dying, asks Tancredi for the sacrament of baptism, whereupon she laughs for joy and finds peace. For a secular worldview, this may be a scandal, which is why director Silvia Costa offers a modern superstructure: Black Swan Theory. Economics describes the occurrence of extremely improbable, including catastrophic events that lead to temporary paralyses. But such a meta-level can hardly be achieved on the theater stage. At least not accompanied by props such as urns, children's coffins, laser swords. They cannot compete with the extreme internal tension that characterizes so many works of the seventeenth century. A simple tableau works much better scenically,in which the madrigalists sing in black habit with ancient white collars.