Winter Vino e Voce, is a new annual winter offering of intimate performances at the Hampton Opera Center, a spark of light in February for opera lovers. Offered in Portland Opera’s home, Winter Vino e Voce’s inaugural performance will showcase Claudio Monteverdi, the first great genius of opera composers.
In 1607 Claudio Monteverdi—the first great genius of opera composers—at the age of 40 wrote the earliest opera that is still in regular production, L’Orfeo. In addition to his great operas, Monteverdi also composed 9 books of madrigals, which are essentially “song books” that contain a series of vocal solos, duets, trios, quartets and other ensembles. The Portland Opera’s production of Songs of Love and War is a collection of tuneful and lyrical madrigals presented as mini-stories. These solos, duets, trios, and quartets are lyrical, expressive music based on poetry that uses the metaphor of war to describe love.
“For this production, I have chosen to stage a series of madrigals from Books 7, 8 and 9,” says General Director Christopher Mattaliano who will direct. “The poetry in these songs is surprisingly ‘modern’ in viewpoint, covering a wide range of emotion and content: the dance of courtship, sensual attraction, sexual passion, unrequited love, betrayal, lovers at war, and the tension between chastity and sensual pleasure. Think Carmina Burana, only much earlier.”
While there is no “story,” per se, to the evening, each song tells it’s own mini-story. The evening will feel like a series of staged scenes or vignettes – a woman laments about her lover’s betrayal, a duet with a man attempting (comically) to seduce a woman, a trio with three men pleading with their lovers to stop fighting, etc. In Monteverdi’s lyric, deeply expressive, and emotionally direct Songs of Love and War, the birth of opera as we know it is right around the corner.