Gesualdo ∙ Shadows - A Modern Baroque Opera

Gesualdo ∙ Shadows - A Modern Baroque Opera
© Eva Sommestad Holten
Gesualdo’s music is, according to composer Bo Holten, provocative, weird and extreme; ”It does not try to please, appear understandable or even to communicate, but is a depiction of his situation. The expressivity found in his music is absolutely naked.” Librettist Eva Sommestad Holten expands: ”Gesualdo expressed his anxiety through his art – and found consolation in doing so”.

Gesualdo ∙ Shadows is a musical drama by Bo Holten about the sensational Renaissance composer Carlo Gesualdo. We follow Gesualdo from his emotional youth in Naples, through artistic uprising in Ferrara and on to an old age of ordeal, beauty, mystery and melancholy, where he is locked in his own princely palace on top of the mountain in the city of Gesualdo in southern Italy.

In the work Holten experiments with the fusion of new and early music: ”The piece is really a modern Baroque opera, which is quite a new thing. It is written for period instruments and madrigalists in combination with opera soloists in a more contemporary tradition.

Gesualdo was one of the late-Renaissance most important and most extreme composers. He was also a neurotic, experimental and 'modern' person, who killed his unfaithful wife and her lover. Gesualdo found himself in the crossfire between his own personal and artistic urges and passions, and the social and religious expectations and requirements of the surrounding society. In the opera, this tension is personified by the character Shadow. Bo Holten and Eva Sommestad Holten explain that Shadow is a multifaceted figure impersonating, among other things, the inner voices that plagued Gesualdo throughout his life. In his status as Prince, he could afford to compose exactly as it suited him, giving his music a wilder face than his contemporaries. Gesualdo’s dramatic life and grim fate is deeply connected to the colourful, fractured and deeply despairing music he produced. In Gesualdo ∙ Shadows his expressive music is seamlessly woven together with with Holten’s own.

2016 is the 450th year of Carlo Gesualdo’s birth.
Composer & conductor : Bo Holten (1948)
Librettist, stage design & costume : Eva Sommerstad Holten (1957)
Director : Deda Cristina Colonna
Ensemble : Concerto Copenhagen
Producer : The Funen Opera in collaboration with the vocal ensemble Musica Ficta
Gert Henning Jensen
Tor Lind
Guido Paevatula
Anders Jakobsen
Ann-Christin W. Ingels
Hanna Kappelin Madrigalists:
Nana Bugge Rasmussen
Daniel Carlsson
Andreas Halling
Fredrik Bjellsäter
Rasmus Kure Thomsen

Listen to Bo Holten's music on Spotify:

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