September 14 and 15, 2019 

Le Nozze in Baviera

Orlando di Lasso’s Music for the 1568 Wedding of Wilhelm V of Bavaria and Renate of Lorraine

A Concert Exploring Ritual, Race, Caricature, and Sexuality in Sixteenth-Century Europe


Megan Chartrand, Mary Gerbi, sopranos

Ryland Angel, alto

Matthew Anderson, Michael Barrett, tenors

Ulysses Thomas, bass

Nathaniel Cox, cornetto and lute;

Liza Malamut, Erik Schmalz, Mack Ramsey, recorders and sackbuts;

Lawrence Lipnik, Sarah Mead, recorders and violas da gamba

Eric Rice, director

September 14, 2019, at 3 pm

Pre-Concert Talk at 2:30 pm

Kanbar Auditorium – Studzinsky Recital Hall

Bowdoin College

Brunswick, Maine

Free Admission


September 15, 2019, at 3 pm

Pre-Concert Talk at 2:30 pm

Kent Recital Hall

Fitchburg State University

Fitchburg, Massachusetts

Free Admission


On 22 February 1568, Duke Wilhelm V of Bavaria married Renata of Lorraine, and the ensuing celebration occupied the Munich court for eighteen days. The renowned composer Orlando di Lasso was charged with planning the music and theater for the occasion, including a series of commedia dell’arte presentations. His 1581 Libro di Villanelle contains a number of works whose texts are associated with the commedia dell’arte, and Massimo Troiano’s 1568 Dialoghi relates many details of the proceedings, including some musical ones. Taken together, these works allow for a reconstruction of some of the elaborate music that followed the wedding, including several madrigals and six moresche, carnivalesque Neapolitan songs that represent the speech of African slaves. Though the non-Neapolitan portions of the texts of these works were long believed to be onomatopoetic gibberish, recent scholarship has revealed it to be Kanuri, the language of the Bornu Empire in the Lake Chad region from which many African slaves came to Naples. Lasso’s moresche are noteworthy for the sophistication of their rhythm and texture; rhythmic play stems from the texts themselves, while the subtle use of contrasting the texture throws the racially- and sexually-charged dialogue into high relief, increasing the effect of the caricature for the Munich court’s audience. The music — performed by singers, recorders, sackbuts, and violas da gamba — invites us to consider race relations, commerce, and their effects on the culture of early modern Naples and Munich. This program has been performed at the Connecticut Early Music Festival, the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art in Hartford, the New England Conservatory, and Columbia University. The New York Times praised the “cool poise and accuracy” of the singers and the “fine, flexible” instrumental consort.

© 2018 Ensemble Origo, Inc.

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