- November 2, 2019
Barbara Strozzi had a fiercely distinctive style. In this macaronic production the play explained to some extent why this was needed, the music beautifully illustrated just how strikingly independent she was as a poet and composer.
Fieri Consort is a regular contributor to BREMF’s programme and we greatly enjoy watching their scope broadening as their talent matures. I appreciated the jolly songs and duets but, unsurprisingly, it was the two beautiful extended plaints sung by Helen Charlston (mezzo-soprano) and Hannah Ely (soprano) which will stay with me. Their impressive technique never detracted from the eloquence of their delivery. They conveyed the echo of Strozzi’s own voice. They were most sensitively supported by Harry Buckoke (bass viol), Toby Carr (theorbo) and Aileen Henry (harp), who are used to performing at BREMF without a conductor.
The stagecraft, however, needed a detached director’s eye and some decisive editing. There were too many characters on the stage, at the cost of clarity. With so much chatter, when contemporary letters were read out I just hoped that they were authentic. The actors had a difficult task as their deeper emotions, both joy and grief, were expressed much better by a different medium, Strozzi’s own music.
St George’s Church,
1 November 2019