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banchetto musicale

September 18, Sunday, 7 pm
St. Catherine’s Church, Vilniaus g. 30

Ruota di fortuna
The legend of Zygmunt and Barbara brought to life through song, dance and prose

Early music and dance ensemble BANCHETTO MUSICALE
Directors: Jūratė Mikiškaitė-Vičienė, Virginija Gaudiešiūtė-Jašinskienė

Actor Birutė Mar

The death of Barbara Radziwiłł, Grand Duchess of Lithuania and Queen of Poland 460 years ago brought to an end her legendary love affair with Sigismund II Augustus. No other ruling couple in Lithuanian history has drawn such sincere and varied commemoration in art work.
The early music and dance ensemble “Banchetto musicale” has interpreted this drama of human relations and the struggle for love and loss in its own way. Actual figures do not make an appearance, only those recognizable episodes from history known to us all: the young people making each other’s acquaintance amid the merriness of a court celebration, secret rendezvous, deep and beautiful emotions uninhibited by jealousy, the intrigue that cloaked their secret union and the celebratory coronation of Barbara…
The “wheel of fate” theme is developed throughout with the performance of 16th century Italian court dances, produced by “Banchetto musicale’s” first choreographer, an authority on Renaissance-era dance, Barbara Sparti from Rome. She recently discovered the descriptions of certain dances in Italy’s archives and is using them for the first time ever in this programme. The emotions of love and longing resound in the melodies of Italian frottole and the colourful court capella.
Sigismund Augustus’ and Barbara Radziwiłł’s emotional drama is also revealed through the words of actress Birutė Mar, her reading of prose by M.K. Sarbievijus, Vladas Braziūnas, and the “Song of songs”, as well as citations of historians’ thoughts. The theatralized programme’s first dance “Ruota di Fortuna” sets off the Wheel of Fate, while the procession of the last asserts Love’s victory over Time.

This year the early music and dance ensemble “Banchetto musicale” celebrates 25 years of creative activity. It was founded in 1986 by its present director Jūratė Mikiškaitė-Vičienė. The director of the dance group has been Virginija Gaudiešiūtė-Jašinskienė since 1997. This was the first collective in Lithuania devoted to recreating the authentic spirit of the early ages, spreading the Renaissance-era cultural legacy of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and West European countries. In recent years “Banchetto musicale” programmes have broadened to embrace music and dance from the 14th to the early 19th century. From its very inception, dance has been the foundation of the ensemble’s theatralized programmes.
The most well known historical dance researchers and choreographers have worked with “Banchetto musicale”, such as Barbara Sparti (Italy), Lieven Baert (Belgium) and Jane Gingell (United Kingdom), and others.
“Banchetto musicale” has participated in various international events, appeared in concerts in Latvia, Estonia, Belarus, Poland, Ukraine, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Finland, Norway, Belgium, Luxembourg and Ireland, as well as in many cities in Germany, several palace halls in St. Petersburg and early music festivals in Moscow. “Banchetto musicale” and Lithuanian Television have co-produced eight theatralized concerts, while other works have been recorded at the Lithuanian Radio studios. In 2007 the ensemble’s dancers participated in the filming of an Italian four-part TV film “War and Peace”.
A notable biographical fact is the ensemble’s concert in December 2009 in the Yehudi Menuhin Hall at the European Parliament in Brussels, organized to commemorate the millenium of Lithuania’s name in history.

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