Gesualdo does Comic Relief

Gesualdo does Comic Relief

If there’s one thing Gesualdo didn’t do much, it was comedy. He was lampooned as a cuckold, sometimes ridiculed for his music (Dr. Burney accused him of ‘perpetual embarrassments’), and his harmonic twists might even cause occasional gasps of surprise, but his plangeant suspensions, mournful tones and accusatory texts hardly line him up for a commedia award.

Nonetheless, in the spirit of Red Nose Day and, perhaps, seeking some attention for our thematically inappropriate crime drama, music director Robert Hollingworth will be on BBC Radio 3’s In Tune today (13 March), armed with a musical joke by Gesualdo himself. The full programme starts at 4.30pm: Robert is expected to be on a little before or after 5pm.

Robert’s previous appearances on In Tune include April 1st, when he sang an item by one ‘Giorgio Formbio’, called Quando lavo i vetri. It included a verse or two at Gesualdo’s expense:

When young Gesualdo was first wed

My how he was glad

he loved his gorgeous missus

’til he found out she’d been had.

The dashing young duke Andria

surprised her in her large boudoir,

I watched him as he went too far,

When I’m cleaning windows.

Gesualdo found out, oh my God,

he killed her and cut up her bod

while wearing her nightdress, that’s odd,

when I’m cleaning windows.

A sample of the ditty can still be heard of the Radio 3 website. (In point of fact, the nightdress was worn by the Duke of Andria – he was found in it, mangled and bloodstained, the morning after.)

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This blog accompanies Betrayal: a polyphonic crime drama, a music and dance-theatre project inspired by the life and works of Carlo Gesualdo with shows in London, Cambridge and Salisbury May/June 2015. More information here and via the links on the left.