Harlequin Blog Series: The Servant and his Master

By Sarah Baumann, Marketing Director

One of the most-anticipated concerts of our 2018/19 season is the world premiere of The Harlequin Salon in January 2019. Following on the success of the multimedia performances created by double bassist Alison Mackay, these concerts will be created, scripted, and illustrated by oboist Marco Cera. We’ll be writing a monthly Harlequin blog post to take you behind the scenes as this production comes to life!

This January, Tafelmusik will stage an elaborate Roman salon hosted by caricaturist Pierre Leone Ghezzi (portrayed by show creator Marco Cera). Famous guests at the salon will include composer Antonio Vivaldi, 24-year old opera diva Faustina Bordoni, and cello virtuoso Giovanni Bononcini. These guests and their music will be performed by Tafelmusik’s Music Director Elisa Citterio, guest soprano Roberta Invernizzi, and Tafelmusik cellist Christina Mahler.

How else will these performances bring a theatrical flair to the world of Ghezzi and his guests? While reading Ghezzi’s diaries, Marco realised that he wrote about his servants a lot – and that their escapades were similar to those in the famous Carlo Goldoni play, The Servant of Two Masters. This play draws on the traditions of commedia dell’arte, a form of theatre first developed in 16th century Italy, featuring masks, stock characters, and comedic sketches, or “lazzi.” The Harlequin Salon will interweave musical performances with scenes featuring Ghezzi’s servant, Harlequin, played by Toronto actor Dino Goncalves.

We asked Marco what kind of trouble we can expect from Goncalves’ character: “He’s going to animate and host the party for the audience, get into trouble, and attempt to seduce our opera singer, Faustina. This will lead her to play a trick in turn on him in return. Hijinx will definitely ensue!”

Harlequin, or Arlecchino, is the best-known of the comic servant characters from commedia dell’arte. He is known for his chequered costume, and is light-hearted, nimble, and astute, often acting to thwart the plans of his master, in order to pursue his own love interests. Will he succeed in winning the heart of Faustina Bordoni and not bringing the party crashing down around him? We hope you will join us to find out!

This blog series will continue in November and December. Here is the link to the first post, Marco meets Ghezzi.

The Harlequin Salon premieres January 16-20, 2019 at Trinity-St. Paul’s Centre. Click here to buy your tickets now.

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Harlequin Blog Series: Marco Meets Ghezzi

By Sarah Baumann, Marketing Director

One of the most-anticipated concerts of our 2018/19 season is the world premiere of The Harlequin Salon in January 2019. Following on the success of the multimedia performances created by double bassist Alison Mackay, these concerts will be created, scripted, and illustrated by oboist Marco Cera. We’ll be writing a monthly Harlequin blog post to take you behind the scenes as this production comes to life!

Marco moved from Italy to Toronto to play with Tafelmusik from 2000–2002 and rejoined the orchestra in January 2007. A passionate painter (Marco studied figurative art at Liceo Artistico Citta’ di Valdagno in Italy), as well as multi-instrumentalist, he first encountered the sketches of Pier Leone Ghezzi (1674–1755) as references. “Ghezzi left behind more than 4,000 drawings depicting Roman society from the baroque era. These have become important for musicians now,” he explains. “They provide a great deal of detail on the musical instruments, hairstyles, furniture, posture, and lifestyle of musicians from the time.”

Ghezzi was an Italian artist who was probably the world’s first professional caricaturist. Marco points out that the word “caricature” comes from the Italian “caricare” or “to load, overload, exaggerate.” Caricatures exaggerate the features of the person in the portrait in order to create a comic or grotesque effect.

Ghezzi was an enthusiastic music lover, who held exclusive musical salons at his palazzo for a “who’s who” of Roman intellectuals and artists. His most well-known portrait is the famous caricature of Antonio Vivaldi.

Antonio Vivaldi by Pier Leone Ghezzi

Marco started to research the composers that Ghezzi would have met and sketched, starting with Vivaldi. He dreamed up a salon that would feature several of these personalities: Vivaldi, the famous prima donna Faustina Bordoni, and renowned cellist Giovanni Bononcini. The concert started to take shape: recreate one of Ghezzi’s famous salon evenings for the Tafelmusik audience, and imagine what happens (and what music results) when these famous characters from the time meet!

Marco Cera looking at a Ghezzi sketch

This blog series will continue in October, November and December. Stay tuned!

The Harlequin Salon premieres January 16-20, 2019 at Trinity-St. Paul’s Centre. Click here to buy your tickets now