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I'm John Eliot Gardiner, and this is the very opening of Monteverdi's first opera, Not Fail. In our first podcast, we started to explore the work of a generation of exceptional innovators, all born in the 50s, 60s or 70s, and we started to look at the changes that came about in the early years of the 17th century, which widened the field of vision for these game changing thinkers, astronomers, mathematicians, painters, musicians. Fueling these changes was a more vigorous exchange of ideas made possible through the rise in literacy, through increased travel and better personal services and an increasing curiosity about the outside world.
We heard also about the sudden explosion of translations of literary texts from one language to another. So you no longer had to be part of the tiny elite of Latin scholars to find out what was going on or, as we would say, needs to get online. The whole thing was summarized in 603 by what the English poet Samuel Daniel called the inter traffic of the mind. It's a description which reads like a manifesto for the whole period. And it's why I've made it the title of this second podcast.
The first person to translate into English, the essays by Montaigne, was John Florio. He put it this way from translation All science has its offspring. Learning cannot be too common and the commoner the better. And for the many of those who were still unable to read at all. Of course, the place for enlightenment and entertainment was the theater people went to hear as well as to see a play delivered in the very language they spoke themselves. And now in Italy, the brand new genre of opera ramped up the richness and intensity of that experience still further.
That toccata is a call to attention. It's Monteverdi's way of alerting his audience that something special is about to happen. In the two hour music drama he called a musical fable, a story told in music. And you may recall hearing the same music in podcast, one where he uses it as a backcloth to the song religious text launching his Vesper's sequence, but with exactly the same instinct for theatricality. Don't forget that in 607, Lotfy was première, opera was still a novelty, a newborn genre which still needed to justify its very existence.
I mean, why would flesh and blood characters choose to sing and not speak on stage? So in the allegorical prologue to the opera, it's significant that it is La Musica, the personification of music and not say tragedy, as in Paris Prototyp music drama of 600 who first steps onto the stage to announce this brisling new form of communication. Straight away, she addresses the audience in the first person. I come from my beloved Paris to greet you.
The first of her five stanzas, she actually establishes all three dramatic coordinates, the personal, the spatial and the temporal, by drawing on an age old rhetorical technique called Dex's from the Greek word, meaning to show to point to or to indicate that music is able to reinforce the meaning of her words through gesture of emotions, of her hand directed first towards herself and then towards the audience.
The exciting thing about this new brand, Oprah, is that you can now bring things into the present tense by emphasizing specific words which nudged the audience towards the dramatic situation. Who is singing to whom, when and where?
I am music, she declares she's using the most basic expression in human language, he or Sonor I am a music who is sweet. Absents knows how to soothe every troubled heart soul.
Now with anger. I can inflame the Kardashian minds. Monteverdi is establishing a direct communication between the music and the audience, in reality, between his music and his listeners. He's setting out his stall as if to say, I've created music for these people to sing to you because I believe music has the power to influence, enflame or soothe your emotions. Here she is describing office golden lyre and demonstrating its haunting sonorities. Linked to the music of the spheres.
Of course, Monteverde is really addressing his patrons, the Gonzaga Dukes, their family, that guests and coaches, at least they were on site already.
So Musika now goes on to make a direct link in the audience's mind between herself and Orpheus, the hero of the action. Now, my desire spurs me to tell you of Orpheus, of Orpheus, who held the wild beasts with his song and made a servant of the inferno with his prayer.
In. Welfare was first performed in a room in the ducal palace in Mantua, not much bigger than a large drawing room or village hall, 100 foot by 30 foot at this stage. It's an intimate, almost conspiratorial artform.
Now, with my songs alternate between happy and sad, you can hear the music stop and breathe and test the breezes and the audience's response.
May they not move the body for these troops.
Straw's home by whispering he requested a sworn. Let not the waste be out on these river banks. And make a little breeze stop in its path.
Her last word, CREB stop, is left hanging in the air.
The question she implies here is, will people now actually listened attentively to the unfolding tragic tale of Orpheus, who, to regain his Eurydice, will move itself by his outpouring of grief? And the persuasive eloquence and his singing. That was the Czech soprano Hannah blushing over singing Musiker in one of the performances of Not Fail we gave in June 2017 at the furniture theater in Venice to mark the 458 anniversary of Monteverdi's birth. The purpose of this podcast is to explore the entire traffic of the mind, the exchanges between scientists, artists and musicians of this generation born in the 50s, 60s and 70s.
One of the key figures, of course, is Galileo Galilei, mathematician and astronomer. And interestingly, he came from a musical family and was a proficient lutenist himself. I was delighted to talk about him with Eileen Reeves, professor and chair of Comparative Literature at Princeton University. I asked her to tell me a bit more about Galileo's musical background and what he might have learnt from his father, the composer and music theorist Vincenzo.
He seems to have been very engaged in music throughout his life. And in addition to training in music theory from his father, Galileo himself played the lute and a keyboard instrument, probably a positive organ. Galileo was always very enthusiastic about performing in general in private settings. And so we find that in the midst of his most intensive study of sunspots, a friend writes to him and says, Please get back here not to study the sunspots, but because we need you to help perform these plays in dialect, in Paduan dialect.
Now, some scholars would say that Vincenzo Galilee's influence accounts for his sons. Later, tendency to subject acoustic phenomena to experimentation. Other scholars go further and argue that know the direction of the influence was the other way around.
But either way, science and music are very, very closely, very closely related. Related at this time. Yes, absolutely.
So that sitting down in Enoteca in Mancia, Monteverdi and Galileo would have had a lot in common. Monteverdi says at one point in one of his letters that, yes, he'd read Vincenzo Galileo's Dialogo, but probably a bit later on, I think absolutely that this would have been a focal point of their conversation.
And then given Monteverdi's quarrel with AA2 said about these alleged infractions, Galileo might have pointed it out some support from an unexpected ally. That's an anatomist and surgeon in Padua. And he was a personal friend of Galileo. His name was Girolamo Fabretti weapon. And the fact that both Galileo and Monteverdi, it seems to us, were hypochondriacs, might have made this more easier to work into the conversation. But equipement then they had written a very influential treatise in late six hundred, sixteen or one about a vision voice in hearing.
And Galileo might have mentioned, for example, Aqua Pendant is take on the goal of music, which she said was to move souls using means recognised by poets and orators, typically involving religious passion or love or war. And there's no gesture in any of his discussion to Pythagorean proportions or anything of the sort. And I quote. And then they had also enlisted. And this is very interesting, the examples of vibrating strings, setting others in motion or a goblets of fine glass resounding in response to a plucked string.
So things that Galileo would later take up in the two new sciences. But aquaporin dainties argument is that if inanimate objects react in this way, we simply have to expect much greater effects among humans. And best of all, Aquaporin Dainty seems to have had a particular interest in Orpheus and his hold over animals to charm them and yes, to charm them, bring them to this music. And so he extends the reach of music, not just to these coöperative objects and to people, but to all sentient beings.
Well, this is actually ORFEUS, his first prayer really to his father and to the powers of nature, Rossdale Celle.
And what's amazing here, I think, as you'll hear, is that there is a regular heartbeat, a strumming by the Kitani, the giant lute, which sets up a regular pulse against which the singer Orpheus can pull and tug and can can vary his expression.
Oh, so they feed him on. It doing all I did. He won't even get sworn in, according on. Dealing with the murder scene might be for the tune of. Blessed was the day when I first saw you, I beloved you and happy is still when I side for you.
Did you finish eating or not get better and choose sides in return?
Who are you cutting your floor speed on to speed on?
Best of all, was the moment when you gave me your promise to join hands and Face Eternal and oh no, I had I as many hearts as a starry eyes have me, every heart would be overflowing.
One quantic the all because my lady here to see your beauty is mine forever.
On the way to go, Jamie. Oh, cool.
That was Rossdale Celle, the first of the powerful songs with which Orpheus enchants nature and all living creatures in Monteverdi's first opera not fail. And the singer in the title role was the Polish tenor Christian Adam. In effect, it's a hymn like Arias, though, a blend of Nayo platonic religion and cosmology, describing how the world is created by music and by the sun soul, which is itself both the sound and the symbol of Orpheus. This path to divine enlightenment.
I'm also heading to the sun, to the very place where Galileo started his scientific career. As you can probably hear, I'm in Italy and tonight I'm conducting Verdi's Requiem in a cathedral in the. This is just one of a number of Italian cities, states that had a tremendous amount of cultural significance during the 16th century and earlier 14th and 15th century, but I'm really concerned with the goings on in Mantua in 604 in what might be a mathematician, an astronomer, a composer and a painter have in common.
What could Galileo, who was then 34, Monteverdi, who was 37, and Rubins, 27, have talked about when the three of them overlapped at the Mansion Court in March 604? And what might that tell us about the interdependence of science and the arts and the way intellectual currents were changing at the start of the 17th century?
A good century before the period when these three eminent artists and scientists met in Mantua, there was an extraordinary woman called Isabella this day who was really the sort of cultural force behind Mansoor's renaissance. She managed to attract a number of the leading painters of the day to make sure and had her portrait painted by, for example, Leonardo and Titian in rapid succession. She founded a school for the arts and then her own private capelet, her own private chapel of musicians.
One of the significant things about Isabella D'Asti was her patronage of women artists and women singers who were not then, particularly in evidence in 16th century Italy. A generation later, there was another redoubtable female member of the Gonzaga clan, Eleonora Dematteo. She she was the granddaughter of Cosimo de Medici Florence, and she married Vincenzo Gonzaga in 1884. And together, this couple attracted a whole new gallery of artists and musicians, including Claudio Monteverdi, who had come from Cremona and who started quite modestly as a violin player and as a singer in the court.
But the occasion of their wedding was to bring all the glitterati and the intellectuals of northern Italy into one spot. And it was a tremendous coup of diplomacy because suddenly the concert goers were outshining the maid and she, the sports stars of Milan and the death of the family of Ferrara. They were really at the center of of a cultural renaissance which included music. They were both headhunters, Eleanor and Vincenzo. And between them, they recruited not just Monteverdi as a musician.
They recruited also Rubins as a young painter coming from Flanders. And they even flirted with the idea of employing Galileo as military engineer. I'm now back in Dorset and still thinking very much about Galileo's early life and experiences as a student in Pisa, and last night when I was conducting the Verdi Requiem, I stood directly underneath the immense lamp that suspended from the ceiling of the Duomo. And it's the same lamp that's been there ever since Galileo's time. A story is the one that we were all told when we were at school that Galileo was there getting bored during the service and he started to watch the chandelier, which had just been lit, slowly swinging left to right.
He then got intrigued by the pendulum swing and he started to measure it first against his own heartbeat, his pulse, and then against a piece he was humming to himself or possibly even a piece of liturgical music that was being sung. But either way, it's another example of the intriguing way music and science come together. I'm now joined by Elizabeth Kenney, one of Europe's leading flute players. She is head of early music and professor of musical performance at the University of Southampton.
And thanks to a tip off by Eileen Reeves, Liz has brought with her a piece of music for the flute, a rich Akari, which seems highly likely to have been composed by Galileo himself.
The. Please tell me about this piece by Junior Gallileo.
Yes, it says Vincenzo Junior, and it's in a manuscript that has a lot of the father's music. But suddenly the handwriting changes and then the personality changes. It's written out fairly hastily and even the music lines are written out freehand. So it's almost like somebody's writing on the back of an envelope.
But the formulae and the sequences were so beautifully organized that evidence of a mathematical mind definitely a very logical mind.
The voices lead very nicely into one another.
So what was so special about the lute in the 16th century and leading into Monteverdi's time? Well, if you listen to Vicenzo Galani, the father, he said it was the king of instruments.
And I can't disagree with that. It was totally at the center of everybody's life and the center of many middle class aristocratic households. But also it did percolate somewhat lower down the scale as well, people playing chords and songs on it and serenades and serenades.
And then at the other end of the scale, people used it to work out what the stuff of music was.
And you explain about the frets on the fingerboard and what function they have.
So, again, if you if you think of a modern guitar, it has frets which are at right angles to the neck, which change the pitch.
So here's my string. That's my first fret. That's my second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh and so on.
So each tied on piece of Gupte raises the pitch by a semitone. And these frets were at this stage movable on a modern guitar. They're stuck. And one of the things that all the Galilee's were fascinated by was what would happen if you move them just a bit, maybe you could have notes in between the black and white notes on a piano.
So some composers were very keen on if this is a major chord, that's quite nice.
If I move the fret where my third of the cord is, it sounds even nicer, much nicer. Relaxed. Yeah, it's calmer. It's got fewer overtones. It sounds beautiful. However, if I then that's horribly exact chord using that fret in that position. Nobody wants to hear that.
So once you start moving them, some things become much better, other things become much worse, which is kind of a worldview that you can't have everything nice all the time. You have to pay a price for the pleasure with some really horrible, painful chords.
So is this all pointing towards the concept of equal temperament? Well, yes.
Vincenzo Galilea didn't want to pay that price. He didn't want the bad chords.
So he thought, well, you could have everything sounding pretty nice, whether you want or as long as you had each fret equidistant the other.
Big thing to note about the lute. And in fact, you probably hear my voice resonating in the soundboard of the instrument as I'm talking. But also all the strings are in pairs.
So the top one is single, but then. They're either in terms of equal pitches or in octaves with one higher than the other.
And what they were absolutely fascinated by was that when you strike just one of the pair, the other one resonates next to it.
So all sorts of metaphors about marital and social harmony could result from that, that as long as you're in tune, your resonates harmoniously together. If I did tune one and now I play them together again, there's a painful feel to that.
And what they wanted to do was measure how painful and exactly why they clashed with each other.
But the other great thing, I'm not very good mathematician, but even I can see that on my string length.
Here's my view and there's my Haiji. And I finger that note exactly halfway between the bridge in my loop and the nuts. That was quite common knowledge from Pythagorean theory, and Galileo's didn't march ahead with that. But what Vincenzo figured out was that if you increase the tension of a string and tuned it up, you had to increase it to the square of the original tension in order to get that higher note. And while the Galileans were really interested in the mathematics of that, a lot of other players couldn't be bothered with that.
But they all knew that the way to tune it was to tune it until the top string almost broke. You can imagine how many strings when we get through if you just go over that. And so the ideal tension with almost a breaking point.
And then when the loop string broke, you had a great image for a painting because that was when Death and the Valley became a kind of memento mori when that particularly when that top string broke the instrument you're actually holding this lute at the moment is also a kind of laboratory showing how he could experiment, you know, all the things churning around in his mind. Yes.
I mean, that's a wonderful engraving by Abracadabra of how you could figure out perspective using a lute.
So the straight lines of the lute and its shape gave rise to theories of proportion. And that would become one of Galileo's inquiries of research. He famously, apparently calculated how big hail was by looking at all the measurements and Dante's Inferno. So for him, the tools of culture were the same as the tools of science and certainly the string links and how they resonated. And when you had a good string, it would have a certain wave pattern and when you had a tough one, it had a different wave pattern.
So they got more excited about that as well.
Do we know where the Galileo subscribed to his father's mathematical idea of total irregularity of pitch and therefore of equal temperament and the therefore the cosmos was arranged in terms of equal proportions like that?
That's very interesting, because presumably Galileo, the son, would have been discovering that, in fact, they weren't they weren't things weren't moving as consistently.
And I mean, he couldn't make that a reality. Yes.
And by thuggery, in temperament, again, argues against those equal semitones. So, yes, I think there is a big difference there between father and son, between father and son. Liz, thank you so much. That's really helped. Was lovely hearing a piece of Galilea, whether it's actually by him or whether it's possibly his father or his younger brother. I'm quite interested to know how Galileo's career developed from those early, heady times when he was working with his father in Pisa, when he was still a student, and then before he got this amazing job as professor of mathematics in Padua.
And then came prospecting for a job at the mansion court at the Gonzaga as a military engineer. So I'm going to ask Eileen Reeves, who's a Galileo expert, to enlighten us about this.
He's very well established at the University of Padua and socially also in nearby Venice. He's been there for eight years now. His public courses in Padua involved Euclid's elements and traditional Ptolemaic astronomy. And those were mostly instrumental because it helped make medical diagnosis.
But privately, matters were much more complicated and I think much more rewarding for him. He gave lessons on fortification, ballistics and surveying, and that's the military engineering.
But he also gave private lessons on optics, on Kazmaier graphy and on mechanics. And he devised the machine for lifting water. He collaborated on another firm measuring Pulsers. He weighed in on a traditional question about the height of Mount Causus.
He frequently commented on literary, artistic and musical developments. Could you just go back and tell? Our listeners, what really went on in peace when he was watching that pendulum swinging in the cathedral, is this all mythology or is it got a substance to it? It definitely has some substance.
The traditional stumbling block there is that the lamb that he described was installed a bit too late for it to have taken place. But in terms of the behavior of a pendulum, it's absolutely correct.
But in keeping with our multidisciplinary theme of an entire traffic of the mind, it's now time to turn to a third remarkable recruit to the Gonzaga court during these years, this time from the visual arts, the young painter, Peter Paul Reubens. David Freedberg is Peer Matti's professor of the History of Art and director of the Italian Academy for Advanced Studies in America, and I asked him whether he agreed that Rubins must have had considerable hutzpah to land himself a job in Mantua, considering that he was only 26 or 27 at the time.
How did he do it when he arrived in Italy from Antwerp, where he had completely mediocre teachers? Where did he go? He went straight to Venice and there he falls in love with the colors of Titian, the bravura brushwork of Tintoretto. And so he's interested in strong contrasts of light and shade. And all this may sort of bring, in a broad sense, the early work of Monteverdi to mind. And at some point, he meets Vincenzo Gonzaga.
Vincenzo Gonzaga immediately snaps him up, who takes him up to Mantua and sets about giving him all these interesting commissions back. He sends him to Spain. And it's sort of interesting because it's a diplomatic mission. The first of Rubens is many in which he uses painting as a kind of cover for diplomatic activity. Vincenzo Gonzaga was quite a headhunter, wasn't he? I mean, he knew exactly who was really kind of hot and who was really desirable to get into his entourage.
I mean, to have got Monteverdi on the one hand and to have snagged Rubens and then maybe except the negotiations went a bit wrong, he could have got Galileo as well. That's shows quite a skill. It's remarkable.
I mean, when you see the portraits of Vincenzo Gonzaga, the portraits made at the time, he seems something of a wimp. He doesn't look like an enterprising kind of guy, someone who can just hire the greatest artist, the greatest scientists at the time. Let's explore Rubens, his exuberance as a painter. He's you know what distinguishes him from the previous generation, from Titian, from Tintoretto, from Rafael and so on?
What is what is the thing that that's really unique to him? And so novel in the early 60s, hundreds, he had a sense of invention, which is a very good term for that period. Everybody was worrying about invention, novelty, and so on he goes. And he sees Tintoretto, which is very important, and Veronese also. And he gets the sense of quick, swift brushwork. He's not the kind of naturalistic painter that Caravaggio was filling in all the gaps, closing the contours.
He moved at speed. You know, he painted his sketches famously seconds time so he knew how to draw is a brilliant craftsman. But he's also brilliant with the colors and with the brush.
They talked about this FURI at our panel of the fury of his brush. I mean, it was just the vigor of what he was painting. And he said several interesting things. I mean, he also said to Charles, the first of England, that when he was talking about a commission for White Hall, the ceiling of Whitehall Palace, which still remains, he said, by nature, my talent is not suited to small things. I'm better adapted to the great achievements.
I have a mind of vast scope, an endless and boundless invention of no insecurity there whatsoever.
There's 40 other Pinella, which David Freedberg mentioned, is a quality in Rubins that Simon Schama calls his METI Animal Energy and high voltage design. This sense of electrical charge brings to mind also the work of both Monteverdi and his exact contemporary Shakespeare, but whether super confident Rubins might have claimed that his brush strokes were put at the service of orchestrating an image of bodies in motion, Monteverdi as a musician might have counted. That site is confined to surfaces, its sound that penetrates to the very depths of US human beings and reaches directly to our hearts.
We can close our eyes, but our ears always remain open. Shakespeare, that other exact contemporary figure combined both senses sight and sound, unlike all of our protagonists, he was endowed with a boundless capacity to observe and to assimilate. And he saw connections where normally connections are not obvious at all in The Merchant of Venice. Shakespeare has Lorenzo make a passionate defense of music, explaining the impact that Orpheus had on trees, stones and floods through the sweet power of his music.
Then comes these superb lines and indulge me for a moment, because Lorenzo is a role I played when I was at school and I long to see these lines again. The man that hath no music in himself nor is not moved with Concord of sweet sounds, is fit for treason, stratagems and spoils the motions of his spirit, a Darla's knight and his affections Darcus Erebus let no such man be trusted. Mark the music. Now, identification with the classical world was a key theme in Shakespeare's work, as it was with Rubins and Monteverdi.
It's a point which the Shakespeare scholar Charles Nicol was keen to emphasize when he and I spoke at his house just outside Luca in Tuscany.
Well, it's always said that Shakespeare's favorite part was of it, and there's evidence of that scattered through the plays from the first to the last.
What was it about it that really sort of and I think it was that mix of rather sophisticated, sleek Roman poetry applied to gods and goddesses who then become rather incautiously sort of figures who have love affairs and disasters and catastrophes befall them also of its wonderful idea of sort of animated or animalistic nature, which never underestimate Shakespeare as a nature poet. He's one of the few parts of that period who actually give you the feel of the English countryside, poor pelting villages and sheep cuts.
As I mentioned, the drowned fields in a rainy summer as all the rain in summers of the mountains. And I think that, again, comes from from all of it and covid sense of nature, animated by magical spirit, but also bringing the gods down to earth.
In a sense, you know, that they have feet of clay, these gods, that they're not just idealistic paradigms of virtue. They have foibles and fallibilities just as much as everyday man in the street. Absolutely.
They're their little stories and dramas and all those domestic sort of tragedies and comedies. And that's an important aspect of another part of Shakespearean drama, which is Plautus, the Roman comedian or comic writer, and his creation of what you call tragic Canadia. He was the first to coined that term. Plautus was, and he did so because he wrote a play in which the gods and ordinary mortals, as he would have put it, almost improperly intermingled. So he said this isn't really a tragedy or a comedy.
It's a tragic idea and very important stylistic marker of Shakespeare's day was the the interest in tragicomedy. If one looks at what are sometimes called his problem plays measure for measure, all's well that ends well. Try to sum it up to some extent. One can say they are his first experiments in tragicomedy or might say they're his first, although that actually might be a good description of Hamlet itself.
Indeed, to what extent do you think that his plays reflect not simply the historical subjects and the classical subjects, but also the new spirits that was there in Elizabethan late Elizabethan society and the transition into James the first?
Well, one of the great features of Shakespeare's plays is the intermingling of different sort of social levels. And this seems to be a deliberate inclusiveness. These are not plays which are necessarily put on to express a message or to express sort of conventional notions of national pride and all that that one might associate with earlier drama, pretty Shakespearean drama in their inclusiveness. They are a more to be a portrait of the time and a portrait of the society. People go to the plays because they want to see themselves.
Exactly. Isn't it? Isn't that the nub of the issue, that they're in a way a reflection of this new fascination, late renaissance fascination with man, with man's position in the world under the Godhead, but also in a secular society and the relationship between men and women and how man centric the world has suddenly become?
Yes, I think the case that that's very true about the sense of the individual, the sense of man and his self and his mind being the material of the writer. Hamlet, of course, says the purpose of playing is, as it were, to hold up a mirror to nature. He also describes the players as the abstract and brief chronicles of the time. You show the very age and body of the time, its form and pressure, all those ideas that Hamlet is putting forward to the plans of the playwright or the performers as documentary makers almost, that they're laying bare some of the impulses and structures and circumstances of life as it's lived by the people who are coming there to watch the play.
Listening there to Charles Nicole on the way, Hamlet holds up a mirror to nature. I'm struck by how closely at around the same time, Monteverdi does something very similar in music, which also lays bare the impulses and emotions of his protagonists and listeners. We've already heard passages from his first opera, Leavelle, which point to the way he encouraged his singers to perform like true actors connecting with the audience and how music brings an additional expressive charge to the transmission of human feelings.
What captivated the Mantu? An audience in 1907, it seems, was the compelling unity between drama and music. Or, as someone said at the time, the music serves the poetry so fittingly that it cannot be replaced by any better composition. Now, Lawfare was still three years down the road at the time when Rubins, Galileo and Monteverdi overlapped at the Gonzaga court in Mantua in March 604. Can there be any doubt that contact between these three impressive figures, each of them on the cusp of major breakthroughs, led to intensive discussions about the melding of the arts and scientific investigation and knowing what we do about them?
It's a fair bet that each possessed exceptional levels of attentiveness and curiosity and enough mental space to cross over and marvel at each other's disciplines and creative work, thereby expanding their views on how men and women fitted into this brave new world. Enough, in other words, for us to see them as the ideal representatives of this into traffic of the mind. We've been exploring. There's even evidence that points to them having met each other previously for years before in Florence, during the wedding festivities of Maria de Medici and ahigh recapture of France.
This was a time when what is considered to be the first surviving opera was performed, Jacobo Perez Ayodeji. But given the restricted space in the room in the Petropolis where it was staged, it's pretty unlikely that any of our trio would have been admitted to the elite of wedding guests. But one wonders what they would have made of it if they had. Perry and his librettist, Ottaviano Cheaney, treat the same legend of Orpheus as Monteverdi was to do seven years later in an intriguing, experimental way from which Monteverdi could have lent a whole lot but will outdo in every conceivable way.
One rather sour critic reported at the time that the music was tedious and like the chanting of the passion. That last bit intrigues me, the reference to chanting because Monteverdi used a technique of choral recitation known as Feld's Zabadani. He borrowed from the way Psalms were chanted in church. In his fourth book of Madrigal's, we find Sefl Gava Connely, still a fascinating miniature Monteverdi setting of a poem, almost certainly by Ottaviani Duchesne, the librettist of Perry's, a radio show which mixes narration and direct speech in a very compelling way.
It begins. Giving vent to the stars, a man sick with love beneath the night sky proclaims his torment. Monteverdi gives impetus to these anguished words in a deliberately declamatory style in which four of the five opening phrases are not notated rhythmically but are chanted by all five voices together over a single chord. It's like a form of choral repetitive harking back to the way a Greek chorus functioned in the tragedies of Sophocles or Euripides. But a total novelty in magical form of the time.
What's really striking is the way Monteverdi aims to blur the distinction between singing and speech, words and music, church music and madrigal, the two of fused together in one collective outburst of heartsick passion song.
Know. To what he saw.
It's fixated on the stars, he says, oh, beautiful images of my idol, whom I adore. Here, the style changes abruptly. Three other voices peel off in Canada while the two lower voices support the harmony. And now he repeats the phrase, but this time in collective recitation. Just as you the stars show me in your splendor her beauty, he says Monteverdi divides his voices, differs and different groupings of three show to her my burning desire.
Goes in the last day on Monday, you know.
And now we're back to recitations, and this is the best bet to make a compassionate implores.
And he does it three times in different keys, same text music, ramping up the intensity.
Landing on a sharp, grinding dissonance on. Pietro's pity my father's house and not because I see him.
It's just extraordinary the way he just manages to intensify this recitation with these distances.
And then the final drawing out of the last phrase, as merciful as you made me love.
Oh. It's an extraordinary piece and one that was not lost on the Rubins expert David Freedberg when I played it to him.
What this puts me in mind of is six years later, Galilea and his closest friends on the night of the 14th of April went up in the living room to test the telescope for the first time, with just six of them went up the hill. They Galilea took out his telescope and he could show them not only their satellites of Jupiter, the rings of Saturn and of course, above all, the rough surface of the moon. They did this in complete silence at night.
Obviously, they had to do it at night. It's that kind of atmosphere doesn't have that love aspect, as it were, the romantic part. But the mood, you know, if one were to make a film of the silent moment in which they saw the Milky Way for the first time, this would be a good soundtrack. It would be a very good soundtrack, would be fabulous.