gambe di legno

L’Elemento dell’Acqua  Alberto Allegrezza  tenor
L’Elemento della Terra  Mauro Borgioni  bass
L’Elemento del Foco  Emanuela Galli  soprano
L’Elemento dell’Aria  Gabriella Martellacci  contralto
L’Humana Natura  Letizia Verzellesi  mezzosoprano
La Divina Misericordia  Anna Simboli  soprano
La Divina Giustizia  Sonia Tedla  soprano
La Beatissima Vergine  Emanuela Galli  soprano
San Giovanni  Gabriella Martellacci  contralto
San Pietro  Mauro Borgioni  bass

Jose Manuel Quintana, Paolo Zuccheri, Francesco Galligioni, Teresina Croce, Giuliano Eccher   viol
Mauro Zavagno   violone
Rosella Croce, Esther Crazzolara  violin
Emanuele Marcante   viola
Francesco Galligioni   cello
Pietro Prosser   theorbo
Paolo Zuccheri   artistic director gambe di legno

Francesco Baroni   organ & direction

Mus. Hs. 16899 Österreichische Nationalbibliothek, Musiksammlung (Partitur ·  score)
Mus 0321206 Biblioteca nazionale Braidense, Milano (Libretto)
Edition: Francesco Baroni

Leopold I.  (1640 – 1705)
Il Lutto dell’Universo

Attione Sacra per lo Santo Sepolcro
Libretto: Francesco Sbarra (1611 – 1668)

[ 1 ]    Sonata    03 : 59
[ 2 ]    AQUA «Io, che là nel Giordano»    04 : 21
[ 3 ]    [Madrigale à 4] «Ecco si spingono»     06 : 14
[ 4 ]    Aria AQUA con Viole «In horrido Trono»    02 : 28
[ 5 ]    TERRA «Mà, da la Madre al fine»    03 : 56
[ 6 ]    Sonata    00 : 59
[ 7 ]    L’HUMANA NATURA con Viole «Che fai, misero Mondo»    01 : 11
[ 8 ]    Aria L’HUMANA NATURA «Ah non fia vero»    02 : 06
[ 9 ]    FUOCO, ARIA, ACQUA, TERRA à 4 «Sì, sì, questo, sì, sì»    01 : 54
[ 10 ]    DIVINA MISERICORDIA «Fermate homai, fermate»    01 : 50
[ 11 ]    Aria DIVINA MISERICORDIA «Dunque, ò Madre»    00 : 50
[ 12 ]    L’HUMANA NATURA «M’acqueto, e mi rivolgo»    00 : 17
[ 13 ]    FUOCO, ARIA, ACQUA, TERRA à 4 «Et Io, che nova brama»    01 : 06
[ 14 ]    Aria DIVINA MISERICORDIA «Mondo frale, in qual periglio»    03 : 43
[ 15 ]    DIVINA GIUSTIZIA, DIVINA MISERICORDIA «Respira»    02 : 04
[ 16 ]    SAN PIETRO «E come, all’hor ch’Io dissi»    02 : 39
[ 17 ]    Aria San Pietro «Ah! se questo pur è vero»    02 : 42
[ 18 ]    DIVINA MISERICORDIA «Ascolta: Io quella sono»    01 : 06
[ 19 ]    DIVINA MISERICORDIA «Non altro desio»    01 : 47
[ 20 ]    SAN PIETRO «Et Io che farò mai?»    03 : 02
[ 21 ]    BEATA VERGINE «Ò Voi, che n’andate»    02 : 56
[ 22 ]    SAN GIOVANNI «Giovanni misero; Che speri più!»     01 : 32
[ 23 ]    BEATA VERGINE «O voi, che venite per questo sentiero»     02 : 01
[ 24 ]    SAN GIOVANNI «Madre; ò come uniformi»    03 : 17
[ 25 ]    BEATA VERGINE «Lassa! ahimè! s’è convertita»    03 : 03
[ 26 ]    BEATA VERGINE «D’un Dio fui Genitrice»    00 : 49
[ 27 ]    BEATA VERGINE «Ò Sommo, ETERNO PADRE»    01 : 00
[ 28 ]    DIVINA MISERICORDIA «Quella, ò Vergin»    01 : 32
[ 29 ]    SAN PIETRO «Ah! perché più m’ascondo!»    02 : 55
[ 30 ]    BEATA VERGINE «Qui spargete, Occhi dolenti»    01 : 47
[ 31 ]    Sonata    01 : 36
[ 32 ]    Madrigale ultimo TUTTI «Homai quì s’accorga»    02 : 45

Kaiser Leopold I «Il lutto dell’universo»

At the time when Isaac Newton invented the first reflecting telescope and formulated his famous laws of motion and experiments were being made with Magdeburg hemispheres, when Louis XIV rebuilt the Palace of Versailles and Giovanni Battista Lulli launched French opera, Leopold I, who most notably shared a great passion for music with his archrival Louis XIV, ruled in Vienna. Music, opera, theatre, indeed the arts in general were deliberately (and justifiably, one might admit) employed as instruments for the display of power. For good measure, both rulers were also passionate dancers. But whilst Louis XIV merely consumed melody and harmony, the Cesarea Maestà turned his own hand to composition. Examples of the emperor’s musical accomplishments can be found today primarily in the Austrian National Library collections. Music flourished at the imperial court during the reign of Leopold Ignatius Joseph Balthasar Felician (1658 – 1705) as never before. Italian musicians, singers and composers influenced the sonorous representation of the Holy Roman Empire. Creating a «Bibliotheca cubicularia» with a large musical collection in his private chambers was apparently one of His Imperial Highness’s passions in an era before the advent of mass media. Thus on retiring to bed, Leopold could leaf through the volumes in his bedroom library and lull himself to sleep, either at the harpsichord or in his imagination. These ornate vellum-bound volumes, often stamped with the monarch’s portrait in gold, belong to the gems of Austrian music history today. They include many oratorios, operas and cantatas with basso continuo, most of which still await rediscovery.
It was probably Kapellmeister Antonio Bertali who instructed the ruler – whose 375th anniversary falls this year – in the art of composition. Leopold I was again following in his father’s footsteps, for Ferdinand III was very musical and a composer himself too. Naturally, the ruler’s works were also performed by the court orchestra. His Majesty Leopold I was at home in all genres, whether dance music, carnival songs or sacred works.
Whilst the stage, symbolic of the world, remained empty during Lent and the opera house staff were busy preparing the next season, the emperor invited his guests to quiet reflection in the Hofburg chapel, where so-called «Sepolcri» – a peculiarly Viennese kind of oratorio also known as «Attione sacra» – were performed scenically in front of the Holy Sepulchre.
«Il Lutto Dell’Vniverso / Attione Sacra / Per lo Santo / SEPOLCRO» is one of Leopold’s more than 230 surviving works and belongs to the «Sepolcro» genre. The work received its first performance in Vienna Neustadt on Maundy Thursday, 29th March 1668. Antonio Cesti, Leopold I’s Vice-Kapellmeister in Vienna, was among the singers in this premiere, taking the allegorical part of Elemento della Terra. Francesco Sbarra (1611 – 1668), Jesuit and the emperor’s court poet wrote the libretto for this Lenten oratorio. Sbarra had already clearly defined his artistic beliefs with works such as the Favola Moarale «La Moda», performed in 1652 in the poet’s home town of Lucca: he wanted to improve the world with his writings, to offer earthly mortals a beacon on the path of virtue, occasionally exhorting them to follow the «right path». Incidentally, Sbarra’s mythical opera «Il pomo d’oro» (with music by Antonio Cesti) was performed in Vienna only a few months after «Il lutto dell’universo».
In this oratorio, Sbarra allows the allegorical figures of the four elements, Water, Fire, Earth and Air, to appear alongside those of human nature to lament Christ’s martyrdom on the cross, for which all living beings should atone. The figure of divine mercy appears almost at the last moment: the world should not be destroyed, but erring mankind’s salvation be brought – through the blood of Christ – instead. The gaping jaws of Hell close once more. Full of remorse and self-reproach, Peter, who denied Christ, and St. John appear. Why does God not punish them for their misgivings? «La Divina Misericordia» – the Divine Mercy – can relieve their pangs of conscience: all this had to happen so that mankind could be saved.
«The transgressing world should recognize that only for its peace does the true sun have its setting in its rising.»
A quiet smile would probably have crossed Claudio Monteverdi face if he had been able to glance at the manuscript, penned in iron gall ink. Leopold’s hand seems somewhat reduced, even Spartan, sixty years after the first performance of «L’Orfeo – Favola in musica». Changes of affect and effect are realised with a degree of subtlety that relegates any bold word-painting firmly to the background. In an idealizing way, Leopold I goes further than the composers at the beginning of «seconda prattica»; for the Cesarea Maestà the primacy of text over music is self-evident. For the ruler of the Holy Roman Empire the subservience of music – even when it illustrates the text – was a matter of principle. Superficially, this may seem an archaic position in 1668, yet a more just assessment would suggest a spirit of conscious preservation instead. A decade before Alessandro Scarlatti performed his «Gli equivoci nel sembiante», thereby further encouraging the supremacy of vocal acrobatics in opera and oratorio, Leopold I was clearly fighting a rearguard action. Vocal lines float above a simple basso continuo, often without the accompaniment of any melodic instrument, declaiming the text dramatically, with much pathos, sometimes expressing the content, but also in meditative fashion. The instrumental accompaniment, featuring instruments of the violin family together with the plangent viola da gamba, provides as it were a common thread between two opposing worlds and punctuates the score with sonatas and ritornelli. An opportunity then for the religious emperor, perhaps at times bigoted too and yet very much anchored in the real world, together with his illustrious churchgoers, and for us today to turn away from an image of the bloodied head of Christ in heaven and look instead into darkness, the shallowness of our own interior.

Bernhard Trebuch