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<<  -- 4 --  Keith Bramich    MADRIGAL COMEDY

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Although probably not necessary for such a switched-on crowd of festival-goers -- Vecchi's creation definitely holds its own with 21st century audiences and the texts booklet contains a complete translation of the Italian -- Robert Hollingworth has taken the precaution of adding a contemporary commentary on the piece -- a humorous text by Timothy Knapman, interspersed with the scenes of L'Amfiparnaso and providing a rhyming commentary on and explanation of the action, complete with puns and useful advice (many with double meanings) such as 'Shut your eyes and think of Italy' and 'All mobiles please and pagers silence, or there may be acts of violence'. The puns often mimick the fun present in the Italian texts, as explained to the audience by Hollingworth, with the particular example of the line 'Flo, flo, flo, flo' (act 1 scene 1). The word Flo has three different meanings -- each appropriate to the situation -- a Venetian, a senile git and a chamber pot. (At this point in the action, Pantalone, an old Venetian man in love with the courtesan Hortensia, has a chamber pot emptied over his head.)

Wearing masks to portray different characters, and juggling a large collection of props which include a radish, a toy dog, a bag of popcorn, a credit card and a full-size mobile door, I Fagiolini are marvellously adept at switching roles, somehow seemlessly keeping up the sublime singing and harpsichord continuo throughout. There are the inevitable few moments when on-stage bangs and crashes hide the music, but this is a small price to pay for such fantastic entertainment.

Members of I Fagiolini in their recent production of Banchieri's madrigal comedy 'La Pazzia Senile' staged by Peter Wilson MBE. Photo: Alan Howard
Members of I Fagiolini in their recent production of Banchieri's madrigal comedy 'La Pazzia Senile' staged by Peter Wilson MBE. Photo: Alan Howard

The Cheltenham International Festival of Music continues until 21 July 2002, culminating in a concert in celebration of nearby Tewkesbury Abbey's 900th anniversary which includes the first performance of Life Eternal by John Tavener. Richard Hickox conducts the BBC National Orchestra and Chorus of Wales.

I Fagiolini perform L'Amfiparnaso on 15 August 2002 at Dartington Summer School in the UK, and again on 8 September 2002 at the Lucerne Music Festival in Switzerland. Their forthcoming tour of Sweden (22 September until 2 October 2002) features further performances of Out in the jungle.

Adrian Williams' Sonata for Bassoon and Piano can be heard in Bloomington, USA on 1 October 2002, and the first performance of Williams' Jizo (a trio for clarinet, cello and piano) can be heard in October 2002 at Belgium's Gent Film Festival.

Copyright © 9 July 2002 Keith Bramich, Worcestershire, UK

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I FAGIOLINI

ADRIAN WILLIAMS

CHELTENHAM FESTIVALS

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