What we listen to…

9 Feb

… is a charming and deceptively simple aria from Vivaldi’s Juditha Triumphans. The text goes like this:

Transit aetas,
Volant anni,
Nostri danni
Causa sumus.
Vivit anima immortalis
Si vitalis
Amor ignis, cuncta sumus.

(Time goes,/ Years fly,/We are the cause of our own troubles./ The immortal soul lives/ While our fire and passions are but a cloud.)

The beautiful Judith warns Holophernes the warrior that he should not sacrifice the spiritual to the sensual, for the raging passions of the flesh are but a vain and fleeing dream. Alas, she’s much too beautiful for him to take the hint. So she ends up curing his passions beheading him. Which is good, of course, since she and her deluded friends see the decapitation as some pious deed, blessed by their God.

The aria should sound like a somewhat dreamy presage of the gory end, in a scene dealing essentially with Holophernes’ passion rising to poetic heights. There is a cruel irony in the contrast, and the admirable economy in the means adds to the dramatic intensity.

Interpretations of this Oratorio are not many. The best, in my opinion, is given by the Academia Montis Regalis, directed by de Marchi, with Magdalena Kožená as Juditha. But there’s a wonderful rendition of the aria in this recital:

But when attending to a Baroque concert, what should we wear? First, let’s not make the basic mistake. Baroque concerts are not like the big 19th century operas. Unrestrained displays of grand soir for Monteverdi’s Madrigali will always seem to me a bad mistake: baroque audience is there, more often than not, for the music more than the show (which is not so typical when you go to hear Aïda for instance).

I want to be as sharp and smart as I can be, but I want to do it ninja-style. NO attention getters, much less head turners. I just want the guy who would happen to see me by chance to drop dead from gorgeousness overdose. But not to kill everyone in sight.

Well tempered badass

That’s exactly how you want to look at Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw when Herreweghe conducts Bach. Paired with the right bag, it says: don’t get me wrong. I’m here for Bach. If you really dig the stuff, you can even do it casual.

Contrapuntic Casual

Dress that up with the Loubies.


2 Responses to “What we listen to…”

  1. Trixie February 9, 2011 at 11:23 pm #

    I just visited for the first time, and I think I might have found a new love – great taste in music (Vivaldi opera! Barber! Herreweghe!) and great fashion/shoes! Thank you – I’ll be back.

  2. Miss Eliza Wharton February 10, 2011 at 12:26 am #

    Oh, by all means, be welcome! Thanks for the kind words, you got me all blushing now. I’l have to change clothes to match my new color (brick red, so. glam.)

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