(Maria Ladurner won't be participating due to illness.)
Benedetto Ferrari “Voglio di Vita uscir“
Francesca Caccini “Chi desia di saper“
1587-1640 from il primo libro delle musiche
Traditional “O du schiane, siaße Nachtigall“
Henry Purcell “Bess of Bedlam“
Camilla de Rossi „Parti, e’l ciel“ – „Cielo, pietoso cielo“
1670-1710 Recitativo and Aria from the oratorio Sant’ Alessio
J.S. Bach „Ach, dieser süße Trost“ - „Ich wünschte
1685-1750 mir den Tod“ Recitativo and Aria
from cantata Nr.75 Selig ist der Mann
The programme as described by Maria Ladurner
Love and Death, two key topics of humankind, have long been subjects for the arts. „For love is strong as death“ (Song of Songs 8,6) – this phrase has fundamentally influenced the western world from ancient times until today. What is love and how can we find peace in it? And if there is no peace in love, can it be found in death?
“Voglio di vita uscir” (“I want to depart this world”) cries the lover in the opening song. He loses himself in the never-ending pain of not being loved as furies cry, his skin rips off and he falls to pieces. These horrible thoughts and feelings are set by Benedetto Ferrari, a singer himself, against the music of a light Giaccona. Ferrari dances us mercilessly to the edge of grave, ending with a calm recitativo part: No matter how tormenting it is to love without being loved in return, the lover still cares for his unloving beloved - “and if my love caused you pain, please forgive me.“
“Chi desia di saper, che cosa e amore” is a question which comes up when you see someone suffer from love. Francesca Caccini, the daughter of the composer Giulio Caccini and a well-known singer, composer and teacher herself, seems to have found a solution: „Io diro che piu dolce e amor fuggire“, she lets us sing „I tell you, it is sweeter to flee love.“ Could this be the way out of love’s misery?
Obviously not, as we can’t seem to stay away. Take the example of the nightingale, symbol of love’s pleasures. In the ancient Tirolian folk song “Oh du schiane, siaße Nachtigall” (“O beautiful, sweet nightingale”) this bird is asked to come and sing, not only close to the rumbling waterfall, but in the silence under the hazelnut tree. It seems that no matter how cruel love can be, we look for its beauties again and again, regardless of how often it has failed us.
Poor “Bess of Bedlam” was obviously failed by love harder than most. Clothed in rags, kept in custody in one of England’s most infamous lunatic asylums and imprisoned in her thoughts, she is swept away with rage, accusing love of being nothing more than “a bubble, a shadow, a name, which fools do admire and wise man endure.” Henry Purcell has shaped the suffering of a woman out of her senses into a typical “mad song”, a popular genre at his time.
The bride in the oratorio Sant’Alessio is also crying out to the heavens, but as so often, these merciful heavens (“pietoso cielo”) remain silent. Camilla de Rossi, a mysterious woman about whom we know little, composed various pieces at the Viennese court. Of these, at least four oratorios survived until today, holding treasures like this aria.
“Ich wünschte mir den Tod” (“I would wish for my death”) Left in earthly misery, the soul longs for an everlasting love, willing to seek death if no love is to be found. A longing for death, kept on a tight rein by hope, with faith in the mighty, pure power of love - who could portray in music this longing for heaven, love and shelter in God better than the one and only Johann Sebastian Bach?
...for love is as strong as death,
its ardour unyielding as the grave.
It burns like blazing fire,
like a mighty flame.
Many waters cannot quench love;
rivers cannot sweep it away...