St John, Pevensey Road, Hastings, 17 June 2017
A charming conceit to recreate the music that may have been heard at Monteverdi’s baptism four hundred and fifty years ago. This formed the first half of Barefoot Opera’s concert at St John’s last weekend, with Cantemus, under the direction of Christopher Arnold, singing liturgical settings by Josquin des Prez and Marc’Antonio Ingegneri. Of these, Ingegneri’s mass setting was particularly impressive with its gently enfolding lines and reflective harmonies. Between these a cappella items Nigel Howard played three pieces by Andrea Gabrieli, with a bright Canzona Ariosa at the heart of the performance.
After the interval the soloists of Barefoot Opera, under the direction of Jenny Miller, brought us a narrative worked around six of Monteverdi’s Madrigals. The texts nearly all refer to the anguish of the lover, often coming close to death because of the pangs of love, but by the end the song of the Nightingale leaves us all on a happier note. The use of movement was very telling and often voices came across with more precision because of their place within the nave. This was especially true of the final moments when they were singing from the centre of the nave, with the voices gently ringing all around us. It was a bold undertaking which certainly paid off.
The evening closed with the two groups coming together to sing Monteverdi’s Adoramus Te, and leaving us wanting more.