From the 18th to the 25th of July 2019, the Festival de Musique Ancienne de Callas has happily plunged music lovers back into the origins of the Baroque opera through superb works performed by prestigious ensembles.
For 29 years, the Festival de Musique Ancienne de Callas has been bringing together outstanding ensembles of performers exploring the vast repertoire of Baroque works, written from the Renaissance to the Classical period. For the 2019 edition, Françoise Barre, President of the Festival, has taken us in the world of Baroque opera, which privileges emotion, perception, inconstancy and paradox, for a festival of ancient music with ancient instruments. Interpreted by prestigious high-quality ensembles, the Baroque opera has thrilled the public under the vaults of the churches of Callas and that of the surrounding villages of Figanières and Claviers.
Diversity and quality of works
Between sea and mountains, in the heart of the Var and Provence, the charming village of Callas offers the stones of its houses cascading in the light of the South, so much loved by poets and painters. For 29 years, in July, the village has been spreading its charms, gastronomy and privileged quality of life to enchant the music lovers of the Festival de Musique Ancienne de Callas (Festival of Ancient Music of Callas), presided over by Mrs. Françoise Barre, also Artistic Director.
By the diversity and quality of the selected shows, the Festival fills the churches at all concerts and the public once again congratulated Françoise Barre and her team for her artistic choices.
The works have been performed at the Church of Notre Dame de l’Assomption of Callas but also in the churches of the surrounding villages, the Church of Saint-Michel de Figanières and the Church of St. Sylvestre of Claviers.
Ancient music and provençal conviviality
Places of worship, the churches of the Dracénie become places of culture, where oratorios and music, profane or sacred, explore a vast repertoire of Baroque works, written from the Renaissance to the classical period, under the Gothic vaults where music and songs are enchanting without microphone, sometimes with baroque and period instruments, in the very conditions of their creation in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.
The ancient music joins the traditions of conviviality of Provence during intermissions, where the music lovers likes to refresh themselves and exchange musical impressions and emotions while tasting a delicious Rosé from the local terroir of Provence, a white wine or a glass of Champagne.
Magic and wonder of Baroque opera
In Italy, end of the Renaissance: the Baroque period emerges. To meet the needs of the Church, this gives birth to the oratorio, a voice singing a text, accompanied by one or more instruments. But princes and intellectuals support a new genre: the opera, which privileges emotion, perception, inconstancy and paradox and sings the affects and aesthetics of ancient tragedy. The opera first drew its inspiration from Italian madrigals, but also from masquerades, court ballets, intermezzi, and other court performances mixing singing with several other arts. Baroque opera often combines tragic and comical aspects, even burlesque, involveing magic and marvelous, multiplying the characters and musical genres.
Radiant Venice by Antonio Vivaldi
On the opening of the Festival de Musique Ancienne de Callas, on Thursday 18 July in the N.-D. de l’Assomption de Callas, the program took us to Antonio Vivaldi‘s Radiant Venice. The astonishing and extraordinary voice of Théo Imart, sopranist and counter-tenor, a promising young singer, accompanied by the Unisoni Ensemble, gave life and emotions to opera arias for alto voice, the time’s fetish voice. There followed an opening and concerto grosso for strings and continuo, another style that Vivaldi mastered perfectly. Then, in the second part, Theo Imart and the Ensemble Unisoni performed the famous Nisi Dominus, a sacred work that could be a small one-voice oratorio.
The Fairy Queen by Henry Purcell
The Saint-Michel Church in Figanières hosted on Sunday 21st July the 10 solo singers and 9 musicians of the Monaco Baroque Ensemble under the direction of the conductor and countertenor Matthieu Peyrègne for a very theatrical show, full of emotions, humor and joy, played by soloists of great talent. See here our report on the Fairy Queen by the Ensemble Baroque de Monaco.
Written in 1692, The Fairy Queen was Purcell’s greatest success during his lifetime. The work combines Shakespeare‘s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, with some of the text removed, with masks, a name used to describe musical interludes combining music, songs, ballets and grandiose scenography. The musical component of Purcell is exquisitely delicate and inexhaustible inventiveness. A “so British” show that has delighted the audience with its verve, the touch of magic and the good mood it was spreading.
Il Canto Alla Viola Da Gamba by Claudio Monteverdi
On Tuesday, July 23, the Church of St. Sylvester of Claviers hosted Il Canto Alla Viola Da Gamba by Claudio Monteverdi, the father of the opera. The show, performed by the Ensemble Comet Musicke of 4 musicians including 2 singers, celebrated the alliance of opera with heritage, musical art with the architectural art of the place, served by talented musicians, in turn reciters and singers, expressing themselves by occupying all the space of the church, in the middle of the enchanted public. The musiciens illustrated Claudio Monteverdi’s life with the works he wrote at the times.
Young prodigy from Cremona, Claudio Monteverdi, Marco Antonio Ingegneri’s pupil, publishes his first collection of sacred pieces at only fifteen years old. He then traveled to Italy to develop his career as an instrumentalist and composer. In Florence, he hears the first opera essays that will inspire him for his famous Orfeo.
Eros, Heroes and Heroines – Excerpts from Haendel, Cavalli, Gluck operas
Back to the Church of Notre Dame de l’Assomption in Callas on Thursday, July 25 for the closing show: Eros, Heroes and Heroines – Excerpts from Haendel, Cavalli, Gluck operas, by the company Baroques Graffiti composed of the Soprano Muriel Tomao and counter-tenor Alain Aubin, accompanied by the famous harpsichordist Jean-Paul Serra and Anne-Sophie Moret on Baroque cello. The Baroque era marks the return of the myths of Antiquity with their heroes experiencing the vicissitudes and torments of life. Loves are often frustrated, if not impossible, especially when divinities succumb to the charms of human beings or vice versa. Music echoes these forbidden desires, sensually describing passions and affects.
Callas, a gourmet stopover on the Gorges du Verdon road
Perched between sea and mountain on the hills of Provence, surrounded by a terroir dedicated to the vine and olive, Callas is a gourmet stopover on the way to the Gorges du Verdon. In addition to the Festival de Musique Ancienne de Callas, the village is famous for the Hostellerie des Gorges de Pennafort and its Michelin-starred chef Philippe Da Silva, a haven of peace and gastronomy in an exceptional landscape overlooked by the Pennafort Chapel, place of an annual pilgrimage. In addition to a quality restaurant, gastronomy and lifestyle are well represented in the village: the Moulin de Callas press a renowned virgin olive oil, Gold Medal in Paris. Gold Medal also for “à l’ancienne” Vinegar with the Cru Confidentiel of Vinaigrerie du Clos Saint Antoine, that will soon showcase its nectars in a restored chapel of the XIIth century. Finally, just as famous, the wines of the Bastide du Plan, also Gold Medal, sublimate the dishes for the gastronomes of the region.
High final with a Pièce montée by Clotilde Pâtisserie
The closing show was followed by a tasting of Rosé wines from the local terroir as well as delicious pies and a Pièce montée, creations of Clotilde Pâtisserie, a palace of sweets where Pastry Chef Clotilde Lebec is sharing her passion for 100% home made gourmand delights (and breads) on the Callas market.
The Festival de Musique Ancienne de Callas in pictures
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