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Favola in Musica​

A 'one-man opera' with Marco Beasley
Apollo, Bacchus and the Birth of Opera


Music by:
Monteverdi, Cavalieri, Peri, Caccini, Gesualdo, Marini
Apollo’s lyre plays the music of love.
Orpheus invokes Apollo as the sun-god. 
But there is a dark side to Bacchus’ way
of wine, women and song. Who can give good counsel? Orpheus laments in Hell. 
Finally, Love triumphs in Paradise.
Duo Beasley/Lawrence-King
Trio with Xavier Diaz Latorre 
(theorbo & baroque guitar)

Quartet with Paulina van Laarhoven
(viola da gamba, lirone, guitar)
Other options:

with Early Dance

with violin and/or cornetto

with instrumental ensemble 

Passacaglia della vita
Marco Beasley &
Andrew Lawrence-King

Capella Hall, St Petersburg


Prologo: The Lyre of Apollo
Atto Primo (Arcadia): Orpheus & the sun
Atto Secondo (La selva oscura): Bacchus & the dark side

Atto Terzo(Purgatorio): Farewell to Earth
Atto Quarto (Inferno): The lament of Orpheus
Atto Quinto (Paradiso): The triumph of love

Full program note and sample program here





Farewell to Earth
Marco Beasley &
Andrew Lawrence-King

Capella Hall, St Petersburg

Marini Passacaglio

Cavalieri Il Corpo

Gesualdo Canzon del Prencipe

Monteverdi Tu sei morta


What is the Spirit of Music? From where comes artistic inspiration? Around the year 1600,

as poets and musicians experimented in the myriad genres that coalesced into what we

now call opera, answers to these eternal questions were sought in ancient Greek myths.


As patron of the Muses, associated with calm, moderation and order, Apollo ruled over the arts of music, poetry and dance, whereas Bacchus, riding on the back of a tiger, led a mob of unruly satyrs and crazed maenads. In the two surviving finales to Monteverdi’s opera, Orpheus’ lament is answered either by Apollo’s rescue or by ritual killing at the hands of Bacchus’ maenads.


Early ‘opera’ abounds with such polar contrasts. The soul is inclined to Apollo, the body to

Bacchus. Love can lead to either. The lyre of Apollo, the mythical cetra, became a symbol for music itself, and an inspiration for the development of new instruments for the emerging style of basso continuo. But however we might categorise them today, in their own time these music-dramas were not called ‘opera’. Title pages refer to rappresentatione – a show, rappresentatione cantata – a sung play, or favola in musica – a story in music. Often the most exciting moments were narrated rather than acted out, emphasising the singer’s skill as an orator in passionate story-telling.


In modern-day Early Music, the cool, intellectual discipline of historical investigation

should – at its best – serve to fuel the fire of artistic energy. In any performance, there

should be an artistic tension between technical control and wild inspiration. And as our

minds and passions respond today to this 17th-century music, Apollo and Bacchus are still

amongst us!

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