Sunday, August 12, 2007

Donizetti's Lucrezia Borgia performed in Barcelona

Poison, murder, treason, incest. Gaetano Donizetti's opera Lucrezia Borgia depicts the darkest of the darkest themes of the 'black legend' of the Borgias. The opera is based on the drama Lucrèce Borgia by Victor Hugo adapted byFelice Romani in his libretto. It was set to music by Donizetti in 1833.
The plot of the story is quite thin, maybe owing to the fact that Hugo wrote his play in less than two weeks. It is about motherly love, forbidden relations, misunderstandings, jealousy at the court of Duke Alfonso d'Este and his Duchess Lucrezia Borgia, and it all ends very tragically.
See the wikipedia article
The music and singing however is beautiful. Listen to a sample on the website sung by Caballe and others.
The opera is not performed very often, so it is a rare opportunity to see and hear it played in the Gran Teatre del Liceu in Barcelona. The role of Lucrezia in the Barcelona performance will be taken by Edita Gruberova .To order your tickets for 22nd or 26th of February or on the 1st of March 2008 click the title of this post.

Unknown fresco of Pope Alexander VI recovered

A fresco painting by a Renaissance master which once decorated the bedroom of Pope Alexander VI in the Vatican has gone on show in Rome.
A leading Italian art historian and curator says he has documentary proof that it was once part of a much larger painting depicting the aged Pope kneeling in front of his youthful mistress, Giulia Farnese.
Read more at the BBC website by clicking the title of this post.
Or read Times online here

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

BBC Evensong courtesy of pope Alexander Borgia

On Sunday 15 April 2007 the BBC broadcast live a choral evensong from the Dutch Church Austin Friars in the City of London with the Choir of Gonville and Caius College from Cambridge.
The Dutch Church was established in 1550 when the then King Edward VI granted the church of the dissolved monastery of the Augustine Friars to the refugees from the Low Countries.
The Choir of Gonville and Caius College was established 50 years previously, when pope Alexander VI, granted the right to celebrate the divine office to clerical and secular scholars of the Hall of the Annunciation of Blessed Mary the Virgin.

The College of Gonville and Caius was founded in 1348 by Edmund Gonville, Rector of Terrington in Norfolk. In 1353 his executor, William Bateman, Bishop of Norwich, moved it from its original site, now part of Corpus Christi College, to the present site, and gave it statutes. Bishop Bateman renamed it the Hall of the Annunciation of Blessed Mary the Virgin. In 1557 the College was refounded under its present name by John Caius, M.D., a former student and Fellow of Gonville Hall.
A letter of Pope Alexander VI, dated 1 July 1500, reinforces the right given by Boniface VIII to the warden and scholars of the college of the Annunciation of B. Mary the Virgin, who are priests or in sacred orders, to celebrate mass in the college chapel, even with music and raised voice.
On top of that Alexander VI now, at the request of the warden and fellows of the college, establishes that the scholars of Fischewyke hostel (Fyschwick House), and others in the college, who are not in sacred order, may also celebrate divine office in the chapel with music and raised voice.
With this letter Pope Alexander Borgia laid the foundation of the Choir of Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge.

Text cited from:
Calendar of entries in the papal registers relating to Great Britain and Ireland. Pape letters, Vol. XVII, part I. Alexander VI (1492-1503). Lateran Registers part two: 1495-1503.
Dublin Irish Manuscripts Commission, 1994

Entry 343 1 July 1500
Some time ago, Boniface VIII licensed any the then warden (custodi) and scholars of the college of the Annunciation of B. Mary the Virgin in the university of Cambridge (studium Cantabrigie), d. Ely, and all others for the time being in the college and attending it, who were priests or in sacred orders, to celebrate [in] the college chapel dedicated to B. Mary the Virgin mass and other divine offices, even with music and raised voice (cum nota et alta voce), without licence of the local diocesan or of anyone else, as is more fully contained in Boniface's letters.
However, a recent petition to the pope on the part of the present warden and fellows of the college stated that the college has a house, called Fischewyke hostel (hospitium), in another part of the road opposite the college, which lawfully pertains to it and in which scholars studying letters live; and that if the scholars for the time being living in the house, and the fellows and other persons in the college for the time being, who were not in sacred orders, were able to celebrate divine office in the chapel, even with music and raised voice, it would be greatly to the advantage of scholars, house, college and those in it, facilitate the scholars’ study, lessen their opportunities for wandering off, and arouse them to pious exercises, with benefit to their souls and divine worship.
At the supplication of the warden and fellows, the pope hereby establishes and ordains that any the warden and fellows, the scholars of the said house, and others in the college or house for the time being, who are not in sacred [orders] may celebrate divine office in the chapel with music and raised voice; that the warden and fellows may keep, decently, the Eucharist in the chapel and depute a chaplain or other priest, secular or regular, of any order (even mendicant), to administer the sacraments to them and to the scholars and others in the college and house for the time being; and that they may cause the bodies of those dying in the college or house to be committed for burial in the chapel; all without the licence of the diocesan or of anyone else, but without prejudice to the parish church or any other church.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Viana a place of rest on the way to Santiago

In AD 1507 Viana was an important stronghold defending the approach to Estella (Lizarra). It was established in 1219 by Sancho the Strong and for a period of time - from 1423 - was the centre of a small princedom. In his Codex Aymeric Picaud still used it's ancient name Cuevas.
In the centre of the city is a square with trees and a fountain with cool water offering a refreshing drink for the traveller on the way to Santiago. The Way of Saint James or the Camino de Santiago leads through the centre of this town to it's final destination Santiago de Compostela, reputedly the last resting place of Saint James the Elder. Viana is a welcome place of recuperation for the weary pilgrim on the Camino de Santiago.
At the square one may also see the beautifully ornamented church of Santa Maria built around 1500.
Not far from the centre is a bust dedicated to Cesare Borgia, who in an inscription is honoured as "Captain of the Navarre army". Cesare died near Viana in 1507 at the age of 31 after attempting to storm the town's castle and overthrow the count of Lerin, Louis de Beaumonte. He commanded an army of 5000 foot infantry and 300 cavalry in the service of the king of Navarra. The king Jean d'Albret was the brother of Cesare's deceased spouse Charlotte d'Albret.
May Cesare find eternal rest in this peaceful town.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Aut Caesar aut nihil (et nihil fuit)

On 11 March 2007 a requiem mass was celebrated in remembrance of Cesare Borgia, who died 500 years ago.
The mass took place in the Santa Maria Church of Viana in Navarra.
The music was by contemporaries of Borgia, notably Pedro de Escobar (15th-16th century), Francisco de Peñalosa (ca. 1470-1528) and Johannes Antxieta (ca. 1460-1524).
Performers were the Nova Lux Ensemble directed by David Guindano Igarreta.
Performed were the
Missa pro defunctis
Absolutio super tumulum
Ordo ad sepeliendum "Caesarem Borgiam".

The organizers had given the requiem a title based on Cesare Borgia's slogan "AUT CAESAR AUT NIHIL" (It's either caesar or nothing), but they mischievously added "et nihil fuit" (and nothing came of it.

A prayer was said to plead for rest for Cesare's soul:
Dominus vobiscum et cum spiritu tuo. Oremus.
Praesta, quaesumus, omnipotens Deus,
ut anima famuli tui Cesaris Borgiae
quae hodie de hoc saeculo migravit,
his sacrifiis purgata,
et a peccxatis expedita,
indulgentiam pariter et requiem capiat sempiternam.
per Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen

After the mass a floral wreath was placed by the mayor and the councillor for tourisme of the province Navarra at the commemorative stone in front of the main entrance of the church.

For more photographs look here

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Inauguration of the Cesare Borgia trail

On 10 March 2007 a footpath covering the 10 km from the Santa
Maria Church in Viana to the spot where Cesare breathed his last was opened. The beginning of the footpath is at the Plaza de los Fueros and ends at the Barranca Salada or the Salty Gorge.

The trail offers beautiful vistas of Navarra and in early March the almond trees along the trail are in full bloom.

The death of Cesare was reenacted.
A cruz de campo or commemorative cross was erected and the father (Alexander VI) of the deceased came by to mourn his son.