Antonio Bertali 1605–1669, Dramatische Sakralwerke

Bertali, Antonio (2013) Antonio Bertali 1605–1669, Dramatische Sakralwerke. Denkmäler der Tonkunst in Österreich (DTÖ), Wien.

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Abstract

The oratorio La strage degl'Innocenti (1665) and the sepolcro Il Pentimento, l'Amore verso Dio, con il Pianto delle Marie, et de Peccatori (1661) are his only surviving sacred dramatic works by Antonio Bertali. Together they represent the composer’s mature style which excels in technical skill, rhetorical ingenuity, and musical coherence. Born in or near Verona in c1605, Bertali moved to Vienna in 1624. At the imperial court he worked as a violinist, composer and teacher. After Giovanni Valentini’s death in 1649, Bertali succeeded him as imperial chapel master. Testimonies by his contemporaries and the wide dissemination of his works throughout Europe bear witness to his great popularity as a composer during the seventeenth century. Although Bertali also composed secular works, his main task as imperial chapel master concerned the sacred music at court The libretto of La strage degl'Innocenti is loosely based on an epic poem by Giambattista Marino with the same title. It depicts King Herod amidst his counsellors, in fear of being deposed in favour of the new-born king. Whilst the first two counsellors confirm Herod's rage and advise him to go ahead with the planned slaughter of the children, the third counsellor warns Herod against the consequences of such cruelty and the folly of acting against the divine plan. Nonetheless, Herod and his ministers proceed to the massacre. The second half of the libretto focuses on three mothers lamenting their children's fate whilst Herod's soldiers draw near. All tears being in vain, the killing goes ahead. The breathtaking final chorus bewails the dying children and submits that heaven will take its revenge in time. Il Pentimento is an example of a sepolcro, a typically Viennese sub-genre of the oratorio, which flourished at the imperial court between c1660 and 1705. As in many other Viennese churches, replicas of the Holy Sepulchre were erected in the Hofburgkapelle and the chapel of empress dowager Eleonora during Holy Week. There they served as backdrop for the semi-staged sepolcro performances. The dramatic plot of Antonio Draghi's libretto for Il Pentimento is minimal: The work begins with a lament for the dead Jesus by the allegorical figures Il Pentimento (Penance) and Amor verso Dio (Love of God). Both declare that they would rather die themselves. This topic is continued in a dialogue between Mary (the mother of Jesus) and Mary Magdalene. Eventually, they are joined by two penitent sinners and the four indulge in an extended contemplation about the nature of sin, with its only ray of light being the hope for redemption. The final sequence, however, reminds all human beings of penitence, fear, the tomb, and worms as a memento of their own mortality.

Item Type: Book
Subjects: M Music and Books on Music > M Music
Faculty / Department: Faculty of Arts & Humanities > Music
Depositing User: Susan Murray
Date Deposited: 13 Dec 2013 15:25
Last Modified: 13 Dec 2013 15:25
URI: http://hira.hope.ac.uk/id/eprint/253

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