Notatar for “Notatar for eit rekviem”

June 28, 2011

Greetings for Larvik, Norway!

A little post-mortem (literally) about our premiere tonight of “Notatar for eit Rekviem” (Notes for a Requiem).  In short, it’s a stage adaptation of  Odd Klippenvåg ‘s novel about Don Carlo Gesualdo, the innovative composer and Prince of Venosa most famous for murdering his wife and her lover. While his noble status shielded him from punishment, he spent the rest of his life tormented by his crimes.

The face of an ancient grave beneath Horten kirke in Larvik, Norway.

Our friend and frequent collaborator Andrew Smith has written musical settings of Psalm 55 to pair with five motets by the murderous Prince himself.  Andrew has really outdone himself this time.  The pieces he’s written for this show are beautiful and chilling.  So much growth in his writing, as well as his expertise in scoring music for of our vocal lineup of alto, tenor, baritone, and bass.

The stagecraft is handled entirely by a single actor– Svein Tindberg, a well-known Norwegian actor of stage and screen. Svein portrays the tormented Gesualdo as well as the other lives he destroys… alternating between characters with consummate skill.  A female dancer, Marte Blom Onshuus, silently portrays the roles of Gesualdo’s two wives in a powerful and beautifully understated performance.  The director and librettist Terje Tveit is an Ibsen scholar living in London.  He has brilliantly taken the script (which he adapted from the original novel), actor, dancer, music, and we singers (NYP and guest Ebba Rydh) and created a vivid picture of this tormented character.

This is a piece we hope to continue to program, in Norwegian, perhaps then to Italian and certainly into English.  It’s a powerful piece of musical drama.  Click HERE to learn more about the program.

After a nice sleep, we leave the lovely town of Larvik tomorrow to head to Tønsberg, the center of the Vestfold Festspillen.  We sing three performances in the Haugar Vestfold Kunstmuseum for their “Gloria Mundi” exhibition of local medieval church art.  Of special note is a portion of a Cranach altarpiece which was recently stolen from the church in Larvik and is now wonderfully restored for the exhibit.  After a brief introduction by the museum’s curator, we will take the audience on a travelling concert through the 5 gallery exhibit with musical examples contemporary to the artwork from Gothic and early Medieval sounds of Perotin and the Worcester Fragments through the middle and high Renaissance to some modern polyphony as an accompaniment to the paintings and wood-carviings to truly make this a “living art” exhibition.

After this a second performance of “Notatar”, our own performance of our Tudor City program in the Dom kirke and a festival finale of a chamber performance of Mozart’s Requiem.

More soon!