secular music

Carmina Burana: the memoirs of a medieval Abbott

6 musicians

With this program laReverdie explores the well-known poetic collection Carmina Burana, a manuscript of refined and often surprisingly forthright Latin and German lyrics compiled between the 12th and the early 13th century on the commission of an unknown Abbott of Kloster Neustift in Tirol. The texts, both moralistic and amorous, which were known and performed throughout the universities and ecclesiastical circles of all Europe, are a sort of highly refined “clerical entertainment” replete with both irony and tender nostalgia: laReverdie has conceived the work as a sort of “Remembrance of Things Past”; a concert program with both a musical and a dramatic dimension drawn from and inspired by one of the most celebrated of all Medieval manuscripts.

Don Quixote's dream - the shadow of medieval chivalry

5/6 musicians

Exactly four hundred years after the first edition of Don Quixote, LaReverdie presents a project in which scenic action, text and music merge to conjure up the chivalrous dream-universe of Cervantes’ hidalgo – a hero born in the 17th century, but who actually fancies himself living in his own idealized Middle Ages. Don Quixote’s dream, wholly buried under colorful, exotic heaps of quotations from medieval romances and chanson de geste, evolves here along three poignant stations:

- Courtly Love
- the Man-at-Arms
- Mythical/Mystical Quest

These three dream-sections are going to find echoes and mirror images in the readings – performed by our own, bodily present Don Quixote – from the Amadigi by Bernardo Tasso (1538); this poem is an italian version in octaves of the acclaimed Amadigi di Gaula by Ordoñez de Montalvo, an arthurian romance of very ancient ascendances among whose characters Don Quixote is said to have found the heroes he strived to emulate.

Don Quixote’s Dream in a composite musical, literary and theatrical action sums up four centuries of history and stories alike: Middle Ages meet Baroque - thanks to the mediation of the 16th century romance - in an endless catching up and entangling progress through ideas and symbols deeply etched into the human psyche. Don Quixote, just like the real medieval knights before him, from the exalted Templars to the base Ecorcheurs – and some monk too! do think of St. Bernard - leads a life in close spiritual contact with his champions, fabled heroes of the past – and music breathes a new reality into his dreams.

Bestiarium - Animals in the music of the Middle Ages

4 performers

The animal kingdom was the ever-present background of all medieval culture: a discreet, elusive yet fundamental element of every artistic manifestation of the age. Europe in the Middle Ages was teeming with animals - not only in the immense forests which still covered much of the continent: from heraldry to gastronomy, from Scholastic philosophy to manuscript illuminations, animals, far more numerous than their human masters, invaded all of Europe, in the sacred world as well as the profane. The many-sided nature of the animal in medieval art is present in music as well, and the variety of works presented in this anthology illuminates the immense variety of inspiration that the animal world offered to the creativity of the Middle Ages.

Dante, Petrarca & Boccaccio - Dolci stili of Ars Nova

4 musicians

In celebration of the seven hundredth anniversary of the birth of Francesco Petrarch, a musical-literary production in which the three great masters of the dolce stil nuovo, Dante, Petrarch and Bocaccio, as well as composers of the Italian Ars Nova, are united in a program which presents a number of their greatest masterpieces in an altogether new and compelling guise.
The perfect union of music and poetry distinguishes and unites this unique performance. Apparently the "evergreen" quality of Nature, so constantly and lovingly evoked in the texts - both read and sung - remains ever-constant, yet upon a careful second look the variety of approaches are revealed to be as diverse as they are intensely personal.

Thus the green evoked in the lyrical, Apollinian sprit of Petrarch and Francesco Landini is not at all the same green background of the playful, ribald tales of Boccaccio, evoked in the musical cacce (hunts) of the Ars Nova. Or the subtle, allusive symbolism, at times harsh and unyielding as thorns, which finds expression in the heraldic imagery of the music of Jacopo da Bologna and in the Rime Petrose of Dante.

In this program the poetic readings are rendered as an integral part of the production. The language of the three poets changes its colour and atmosphere not only in the content of the words themselves, but in the very manner of its rendering, as if performed upon three different instruments, and the music which is woven together with these texts enters into dialogue with them, recreating, with its own expressive power, at least as many different atmospheres.


Jacopo da Bologna - madrigali e cacce

Firenze, Biblioteca Laurenziana, Palatino 87 (Squarcialupi)
4 performers

A versatile master of the golden age of the Italian Ars Nova, Jacopo da Bologna has left some 34 surviving compositions, preserved among the principal sources of Italian 14th century polyphony. This program offers a selection, carefully chosen with the intent of illustrating the remarkable stylistic variety and originality of Jacopo's oeuvre. A tribute to one of the greatest geniuses of medieval music.


Guillaume Du Fay - Italian journey

5 performers

As the title implies, this program is a journey through musical styles and genres, as well as across cultural and geographical divisions, which offers a glimpse if the extraordinary richness of Italian musical life at the beginning of the 15th century. The center of this musical "itinerary" is of course the 20-year Italian adventure of Guillaume. More than any other European composer before him, Du Fay's genius succeeded in assimilating, integrating and finally, transcending the pre-existing stylistic distinctions in vogue up to his time, to become the first truly "pan-European" composer. In order to fully appreciate this vital syncretism of styles which leads to Du Fay's greatest masterpieces, we also propose various pieces, most of them unknown, by Italian composers active in the first 30 years of the 1400's. This approach is the fruit of intense musical research in this repertoire, which permitted us to choose the most interesting and attractive pieces, as well as works meaningful for their historical connections.

Review of the concert in Ferrara on the 18th November 2012 at Palazzo Bonacossi
Ferrara Musica

O Tu chara scientia - Music in Medieval thought

4 performers

The discipline of Music, closely tied to Philosophy through the Middle Ages, was considered a tangible manifestation of the harmony of the celestial spheres, a link between Physics and Metaphysics. In the religious traditions of Medieval Christianity, the rhythms of the liturgy and of monastic life were punctuated by song in the awareness that music was the privileged channel of sacred texts: Laudatio Dei. Monks became theorists and the new systems of musical notation they developed gave life to more and more complex compositions; Polyphony invaded the liturgical repertoire and even the secular realm, and the Science became Ars Musica. Nature served as a boundless source of inspiration, and the sounds and noises of everyday life echo in the compositions of the French and Italian Ars Nova. Dante's Paradise resounds throughout with music of every sort, not only with angelic psalmody but with the music of Creation, the murmurings of streams, the calls of animals: Musica terrestris.

De Stella Nova – the Cosmos in the medieval imagination

4 musicians

The magnificent spectacle of the starry firmament above us, the cyclic and mysterious rhythms of Sun, Moon and planets have inspired for countless centuries religion, philosophy, mathematics, metaphysics – and music. The music of the Middle Ages is especially rich with evocations of the heavens both in their visible, physical aspects as well as the invisible and symbolic ones. An extraordinary and varied musical itinerary full of poetic imagery which inspired some of the most refined musical art which has survived from the Middle Ages.

Speculum Amoris - Love lyrics from the mystic to the erotic

4 performers

One might imagine this title to be culled from an actual medieval treatise: an entirely justifiable error, since our title is intended as a copy in style, a pseudo-synonym. The "Speculum" as a literary genre, was typical of the encyclopedic nature of Medieval thought. In our "Speculum", the extremes of sacred and profane love reflect themselves in "that extraordinary multiplicity of symbolism of the language of Medieval thought" of which Aron Gurevic so aptly wrote: "All specific sectors of human knowledge, each with its own specific terminology were, in fact, interchangeable; their importance was determined not by how much they were each valued within their own specialized sector, but in the measure in which they transcended these limits".

Suso In Italia Bella - Music in the courts and cloisters of northern Italy

4 performers

This program - whose title quotes Dante's poetic description of Italy's North - reunites various aspects of the musical (and non-musical) culture of that area whose ancient name of "Gallia Cisalpina" had not yet fallen out of use: the Italy beyond Etruria and Magna Graecia. At the foot of the Alps, considered more a bridge of communication than a geographical border, from that "pan European" spirit of the Carolingian era, Northern Italy conserved intact its cosmopolitan and multilingual vocation. A repertoire of pieces in Italian, Latin, "langue d'oc" and middle High German gives eloquent testimony to the lively "transalpine" contacts maintained by courtly and clerical circles.

Ex tenebris ad lucem

3/4 performers

A varied musical itinerary through the Medieval vision of the eternal struggle between Life and Light against Death and Darkness: familiar, yet difficult to grasp in all its subtleties. The perception of Time in the Middle Ages was fundamentally tied to the concrete reality of agricultural and natural phenomena. Its basic subdivisions, reflected in all aspects of life, are bipolar - Night and Day, abundance and famine. A time full of contrasts, as were the Manichaean tendencies of Medieval Europe which saw the supernatural contrast of Good and Evil reflected in the dramatic, cyclic alternation of Birth and Death, Dawn and twilight, summer and winter and Christmas and the Passion of Christ in the liturgical calendar.

Charlemagne: music for a legend

Mimmo Cuticchio and La Reverdie

Born from a collaboration with the Sicilian puppeteer and storyteller Mimmo Cuticchio and the well-known Italian ensemble La Reverdie, this unique program is presented in the form of a concert dedicated to the figure of Charlemagne and given with the presence of a reader.
The syncopated rhythm of the "Cunto" ("tale": recitation of traditional spoken Italian texts) sets the tone for the declamatory performance which Mimmo Cuticchio has brought to public squares and theaters throughout the world: with a stomp on the stage, an imperious gesture with a sword inherited from one-time master Pippo Celano, the commanding voice of Cuticchio declaims and recites the ancient tales of chivalry, of Orlando Furioso, the Crusades, which were told for centuries along the roads of Europe, weaving a colorful fabric of stories from the austere and ancient formulas of oral tradition.
In an intricate contrapuntal interplay, the musical performances of La Reverdie comment and mirror the dramatic narrative of the "cunto" and create a rich, subtle and fascinating construct of word and sound, thanks to the use of rare period instruments, refined vocal techniques and careful reconstruction of the original musical sources.
An elaborate and sumptuous "Theatre of Memory" in which the dialogue between the spoken word of ancient legends and the musical treasures of the Middle Ages are once again reunited, in the spirit of an epoch in which the verb "to remember" (in Latin: recordare) truly meant "to bring back to the heart".

Review of the concert in Rome on the 8th of November 2012

last updated: 3.2.2013