|Photo of the Belgian group Bel Ayre in Palazzo Da Mosto courtesy of Venetian Centre for Baroque Music|
The setting in this case was the beautiful Palazzo Da Mosto (aka Palazzo Muti-Baglioni, after the family who built it in 1602 and the family who acquired it in 1750, respectively), which hosted two separate concerts on 7 July. We were lucky enough to go to both of them: the earlier, entitled Tanti Cuori, Tanti Dolori ("Many Hearts, Many Pains"), in the portego (pictured above), featuring the young Belgian group Bel Ayre; the later, Eri Già Tutti Mia ("You Were Already All Mine"), on the ground floor with the soprano Roberta Invernizzi and the tiorba (a sizable stringed instrument) player Craig Marchitelli (pictured below).
|Photo courtesy of the Venetian Centre for Baroque Music|
Both concerts featured extraordinary voices and musicianship, and some pieces by Monteverdi, of course. But the revelation for me were the pieces by other composers of the era who were active in Venice, such as, to give just one example, Benedetto Ferrari (1604-1681). Recordings of whose work, I discovered the next day with chagrin, seem quite difficult to find (except insofar as one of his duets was partly or wholly incorporated into the final duet of Monteverdi's opera L'Incoronazione di Poppea).
So impressed was I by Bel Ayre, in fact, that I was hoping to see them the very next night at Ca' Zenobio. They were playing an entirely different set of works (enticingly entitled Chi Vol Vedar Venezia Vera--"Whoever Wants to See the Real Venice"), but I didn't make it. Both concerts we attended though were so entirely captivating that we hope to see more of the Centre's series.
The last concert of the summer takes place tonight in Teatro La Fenice. But the series begins again on September 3. The link that follows will take you to ticket information and a full listing of their forthcoming concerts: http://www.vcbm.it/en/page/ticket-office
For more information on the Centre's cultural aims and much else: http://www.vcbm.it/en/page/presentation.
You can also check them out on facebook: http://www.facebook.com/venetiancentreforbaroquemusic
Information on the Belgian trio Bel Aye may be found here: http://belayre.be/ They're planning to record a CD soon, which I hope--in contrast to works by Ferrari--I'll be able to find easily.
In any case, whether you've never heard a single note of Venetian Baroque music, or whether you own a collection of every important Monteverdi recording ever made--or whether you're somewhere in-between--I suspect you'll find much to interest you in the offerings of the Venetian Centre for Baroque Music. It's an incomparable live and living introduction to an essential era of Venetian (and world) cultural history that's often experienced far too generically here(Vivaldi's Greatest Hits), if at all.