Enchanted forests – Guédron/Praetorius/Monteverdi

In Italy prior to the invention of opera, composers conceived of musical interludes mixing song, dance and theatre around large mythological frescos. In France, court ballets also married poetry, vocal and instrumental music, choreography and scenography. From the beginning of the Renaissance, dance and its muse, Terpsichore, played an essential role in aristocratic circles and embodied the values of nobility: elegance, self-control, and grace.

Torquato Tasso, “king of poets”, finished writing his “Gerusalemme liberata” in 1575, an epic poem which narrated the combats between Christians and Muslims at the end of the first crusade in the manner of chivalric novels. His work immediately became an incredible source of inspiration for painters and musicians.

During Louis XII’s reign, the year 1617 marked the young French king’s first public dance performance, a ballet composed for the most part by Pierre Guédron entitled La délivrance de Renaud and of which the subject matter is taken from Gerusalemme liberata.

Much of the dance repertoire is lost today but it is possible to reconstruct it thanks to a source from … Germany! The famed Terpsichore Musarum (1612) by Michael Praetorius, musical director at the court of Wolfenbüttel. The history of this collection is well-known: aided by a violinist who had played at the court of Henri IV, Pierre Francisque Carroubel, Praetorius collected and harmonised a great number of dances for balls and ballets that were current in Europe at the time, often via oral tradition. Transmitted by the French ballet master Anthoine Emeraud, most of these pieces are anonymous, but it is known that they originate for the most part from the hand of violinists working for the King of France such as Jean Perrichon, Claude Nyon, and Louis Beauchamp. 

Terpsichore also contains a certain number of dances that come from the Italian tradition and it constitutes a veritable European bible of dances for balls and music for “divertissements” (courtly “entertainments”). Mirroring the extracts of courtly dances from La délivrance de Renaud and Les aventures de Tancrède en la forêt enchantée, InAlto proposes to perform Claudio Monteverdi’s masterpiece “Il Combattimento di Tancredi e Clorinda”, written for the Venetian carnival of 1624 on extracts of Tasso’s Gerusalemme liberata  , thus tracing the impossible loves of Rinaldo, Armida, Tancredi and Clorinda in a remarkable pan-European concert.

Aritistic forces (12 musicians) :




2 violins,1 viola, 1 viola da gamba

1 cornett, 1 bassoon, 1 trombone

1 harpsichord

1 lute


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