One could be forgiven for thinking that 75% of the ladies in the audience had brought baby blue wraps with them on Monday morning – the stunning Kollegiatekirch was as cold as a Neapolitan whore’s heart on a night when the fleets in. But the thoughtful people as the Festspeile had provided blankets at the door, and we were just glad that, even for a morning matinee, gentlemen are expected to wear jackets. I had been telling Laurent about the glorious Bernini alter piece all weekend but sadly it was obscured by sound panels and recording equipment. Those were the only drawbacks in Johann Adolph Hasse’s Good Friday oratorio I pellegrini al sepolcro di Nostro Signore, the concert that Laurent ranked as his favourite of the Festival.
Hasse started life as a tenor then went up in the world (?) and began composing; he studied in Naples and became one of the most loved, respected and performed composer in Europe. I pelligrini was written for the court at Dresden and uses the unusual conceit of four Pilgrims being led by an old hermit through the places of Christ’s Passion in Jerusalem until they arrive at the Sepulchre. As they stop at each they are moved to comment on their emotions and feelings. When they reach the place of Christ’s burial they join in an exquisite Lauda to the Holy City.
Riccardo Muti had gathered a group of young singers – all of who, it would seem, have benefited from his mentoring – and his Orchestra Giovanile "Luigi Cherubini" and worked his magic once again. We were seated to one side and could see him clearly. No dancing, lunging or choreography but it is amazing what he can convey with a few movements of his left hand, which more often than not simply rests on his chest. He drew beautiful sound from his orchestra and stylistically superb and committed performances from his soloists.
Riccardo Muti acknowledges our applause with his singers and orchestra; (l-r)Monica Tarone, Elena Monti, Muti, Daniela Barcellona, Franco Fagioli and Luca Pisaroni. Photo by Silvia Lelli.
If I was not a captivated as Laurent it had more to do with Hasse’s composition than the performance. I find that the formula of recitative followed by da Capo aria becomes a bit tedious but those were the conventions of the time. Though Monica Tarone, Elena Monti, Franco Fagioli and Daniela Barcellona all sang their music superbly I was most moved by Luca Pisaroni’s old guide. The young Italian bass delivered his aria describing the suffering of Christ powerfully and sensitively and with his handling of the recitative descriptions of events leading to the crucifixion it was no wonder that the Pilgrims in Pallavinco’s text were stirred.
The sold out audience gave Muti and his forces a deserved 10 minute ovation. We were on our feet with the rest of them.
Photo of the Kollegeinkirche by Andrew Bossi
17 maggio - San Pasquale Baylon