I Fagiolini

Sam Wanamaker PlayhouseOn Monday we went to the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse in London to see “The Boat from Venice to Padua” which featured I Fagiolini in concert. The first part of evening was devoted to a musical comedy in Italian but with the linkage in English. The second half of the evening was devoted to madrigals some tracking Monteverdi’s development. (linking the transition between the heritage of Renaissance polyphony and the basso continuo technique of the Baroque). Apart from the linkages, everything was in Italian and although my Italian is based upon what I have picked up from watching the Montelbano series, I nevertheless could stay with the flow and enjoyed the evening very much. We also dined (quite reasonably) in the Swan Restaurant before the show.
The Globe Theatre is based on the Elizabethan original and the roof of the stage and all galleries are held up by pillars and there is no seat in the theatre from which the action is not obscured at some point. The seats are cushioned but hard. I subsequently discovered that we could hire extra cushions. We got ours (as fish box cushions) from Snowy’s Bait And Tackle, 1-3 Long Bessels in Hadleigh (Tel: 07766 140624).
I Fagiolini have been performing since 1986. At New College, Oxford (the group’s home), their music was known as ‘beany’ music because most of the musicians that seemed to be interested in it (both amateur and professional) seemed to have an alternative lifestyle of knitted yoghurt and wholefood pullovers, living on a diet of nothing but pulses and beans. Stuck for a name at short notice, countertenor Richard Wyn Roberts proposed ‘the beans’; Robert Hollingworth suggested translating this into Italian as the first concert involved Monteverdi and it sounded nicer like that. This worked well until I Fagiolini first went to Italy and discovered the various slang connotations it has there. Different dictionaries tell you that fagiolini are ‘string beans’, ‘French beans’ or ‘little beans’. The last was the one intended.
I Fagiolini’s core repertoire is Renaissance and contemporary solo-voice ensemble repertoire. I’m looking forward to next year when they perform their new show Betrayal”. A Polyphonic Crime Drama based upon the life of Prince Carlo Gesualdo who was one of the more intriguing composers of the late Renaissance. His private life, bizarre behaviour and the planned double-murder of his wife and her lover have added to this allure. It promises to be  a site-specific evening of love, intrigue and chilling secrets

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