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Friday, April 09, 2004
  Le musiche sopra l'Euridice, c) Dafne: Per quel vago boschetto, Arcetro: Che narri, ohime, Orfeo: Non piango e non sospiro
Jacopo Peri (1561-1633)
Norton Recorded Anthology of Western Music, CD 3 Tracks 56-58

It was not by chance that Peri and his comrades called upon Orfeo to lead them into a new era. In spite of his poor track record as an expedition leader, Orfeo is the musician's hero. It is, in fact, because of his failure that he qualified for this position. His experience is a warning to those who embark on the creative path. We can learn from him that to arrive in the light of the stage, the artist must develop his technique step by step with blinders on.

For Peri, the most compelling moment in this story is not Orfeo's second loss of Eurydice. (Rilke's poem Orpheus, Eurydice, Hermes is far into the future.) It is Orfeo's expression of resolve that captures the interest of the gang in Florence. In this moment we are able to observe Orfeo completely. Here, he is confronted with the tragedy for which we know him. At the same time he is yet undimished by these unfortunate events.

What I like about these three tunes is the transition from Dafne's account into Arcetro's brief lament. Dafne's part runs the risk of upstaging Orfeo because it is the part that moves from one emotional state to another. And the frightful immobility of her conclusion is effectively shattered by Arcetro's loud reaction to this news. In this way, Dafne and Arcetro bring the audience to Orfeo's crucial moment beautifully. 

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In January 2004 I starting writing an opinion for each selection in the Norton Recorded Anthology of Western Music. Now, more than a year later, I am almost finished. Soon, I will have an archive full of opinions on the music we so carelessly call "classical." And no one can stop me.

Location: Cincinnati, Ohio, United States

Director of the Contemporary Performer's Workshop... Music Teacher for St. Aloysius Gonzaga School... Principal 'Cellist of the Springfield Symphony Orchestra... Composer

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