A staged version of Monteverdiís madrigals - what a
unique idea. Anthony Rooley and the Consort of Musicke, with a fine
group of soloists, present this combination performance/documentary
about Monteverdi and his erotic madrigals. Opening with a song called
Quel augellin, with the singers in full period regalia, standing around
a table covered with food and wine. After this first track, Anthoney
Rooley presents a brief introduction to Monteverdiís work and the Palazzo
Te, in Mantua, Italy, where this performance was recorded.
The DVD continues with an alternation of songs and
commentary - there is about 14 minutes of documentary for about 32 minutes
of music. This is a bit light, but the pleasure of seeing these works
performed in context - whether or not this context truly represents
the type of performance that would have been made at the time - is indeed
entertaining. Far from the black-jacketed performances one is used to
seeing in concert, or in video recordings, the performers here clearly
show how much they are enjoying themselves.
The documentary sections are didactic and interesting,
and indeed well-illustrated. Rooley gives a good presentation that helps
one truly understand the context and performance practice. However,
one will not want to view this part of the DVD each time - thus it is
necessary to skip around from track to track, which is a bit annoying.
Rooley examines the eroticism inherent in these works,
and presents details from paintings that would perhaps give this DVD
an R rating in the US. In addition, the erotic nature of the songs is
illustrated by the madrigal Parlo, misero, where the three female singers
perform in the sheerest of dresses with back-lighting that highlights
their attractive forms. This is far from a staid recording of early
This is a fine, entertaining recording, that both provides
excellent music and a unique presentation of an essential form of vocal
music, the madrigal.