Music and Theatre 1589–1642 (seminar)

For more past programming from the Folger Institute, please see the article Folger Institute scholarly programs archive.

This was a spring 1999 semester seminar.

This seminar was an interdisciplinary project in English, French, and Italian music drama from late Renaissance court entertainments through Monteverdi's L'incoronazione di Poppea. Participants examined the various musical forms and styles in use in these works and address the issues of music's function in literature and drama, as well as its political and social significance. Ideally, the seminar included singers, at least one accompanist (keyboard or lute/theorbo), and students of literature, drama, and history. Basic musical literacy (ability to follow a score) was useful for all participants. The seminar's procedure was to work outward from selected pieces of music. Specific topics depended to a large degree upon the interests of participants, and included examples from intermedii, early operas, French court ballets, and Jacobean masques. To the extent it was possible, participants cooperated to shape informal performances of selected music. Participants discussed the specific style of each piece, its context within dramatic works, issues of performance practice, and musical and poetic genre. The relationship between words and music was a central concern throughout. Consideration was given to understanding the evolution of new styles, forms, and techniques, as well as congruencies and contrasts across national and stylistic lines.

Director: Robert Eisenstein is Director of the Five College Early Music Program at Mount Holyoke College and Founder and Programming Director of the Folger Consort.