A Mozart oratorio about women empowerment

Judith beheading Holofernes – a painting by Franz von Stuck.

A Jewish woman is at the center of today’s work: Judith, who gave her name to a chapter of the Old Testament, the Book of Judith. The parable recounts the siege of the city of Bethulia by the Assyrian commander Holofernes and its deliverance by Judith. Bethulia never existed under this name, it may stand for Jerusalem, it certainly stands for a beleaguered city, its inhabitants terrorized and wavering in its faith in God. Judith however follows a heavenly vision, summons her courage and passes through the enemy lines. She enters Holofernes’ tent and by promising information on the Jews, she gains the commander’s trust. Seducing the enemy is the ultimate proof of her faith. One night Judith kills Holofernes and ends the ordeal of the city. A magnificent tale about courage, cunning, faith and women empowerment.

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A cantata to celebrate the end of a deadly pandemic

Hoping for salvation. © Charles Thibo

One of my favourite movies is the French production ” Un husard sur le toit” starring Juliette Binoche, my favourite actress. At the center of the plot is a young French lady and an Italian revolutionary fleeing the outbreak of the plague in southern France. A love story amidst human misery and suffering – very romantic, very much my taste. It also compels me to acknowledge how fortunate I am not to have to fear any deadly epidemics in Europe with the exception of HIV. Only a century ago, in 1918, Europe was fighting the outbreak of a particularly tough type of flu and between 1826 and 1837 the great cholera pandemic the killed almost killed the composer Felix Mendelssohn.

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Corelli’s introduction to an heroic woman

Spring will be female. © Charles Thibo

Less than a month ago when I left the house in the morning at the usual time I witnessed the moment when the night ends and dawn begins. An irregular patch of dark blue at the horizon surrounded by the opaque black night. This is not trivial, at least not for me. It means that I will soon see the sun rise when I leave home and that is the announcement of spring. Usually I do not feel affected by long, dark winter nights, but this year it is somewhat different. Perhaps because it wasn’t really cold and winter felt more like a long, drawn-out November, wet, grey, dull, unfriendly.

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Searching for the Salvation of the Soul

Faith, hope and deliverance from all sins - a fresco in the Vatican. © Charles Thibo
Faith, hope and deliverance from all sins – a fresco in the Vatican. © Charles Thibo

Are you looking for answers on this first day of the year? Are you pondering the meaning of life? I would like to invite you to board my time-machine and return to the year 1600. The Renaissance is almost over, the Baroque era has not yet begun. Our destination is Italy, where we meet the composer, organist and choreograph Emilio di Cavalieri’s and enjoy his monumental work “Rappresentatione di anima, et di corpo”, that some consider as the first oratorio ever. You don’t speak Italian? Don’t worry, the music speaks for itself. Continue reading!