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What’s on Youtube: Ballo del Granduca

A Youtube video of a Renaissance hit ("O che nuovo miracolo" by Emilio de Cavalieri).

man and woman dancing

Photo: Bernard Gordillo

A couple in Renaissance garb dancing to Cavalieri's "O che nuovo miracolo."

During the 2008-2009 season, I wrote a program called “La Pellegrina,” which explored the music surrounding the play of the same title performed at the de’ Medici wedding of 1589. The final segment of the program consisted of only one movement—Emilio de Cavalieri’s “O che nuovo miracolo,” better known as the Ballo del Granduca, a tune that quickly hit the top of the Renaissance charts and stayed popular for nearly a century.

Not long ago, I became aware of a video on Youtube which featured the Chamber Choir of Namur and La Fenice (Jean Tubery, dir.). The concert takes place in the year 2000 in front of the King of Belgium (a command performance, no doubt, which was aired on television). More importantly, the ensemble gives a lovely and magical performance of Cavalieri’s “O che nuovo miracolo.”

Adding to the occasion is a couple in period costume and dancing in Renaissance fashion from around the four-minute mark until the end. The combination of the music and dancing had me transfixed and is one of a handful of Youtube videos that I keep watching over and over again. Here it is (make sure to hit the “HQ” button for better sound and video resolution):


By the way, for the Harmonia program I used two excellent recordings (one by the Huelgas Ensemble and, the other, by the Taverner Consort and Players, both of which I consider classics). They’re not alone, however, because a new one was released in 2008 by the Collegium Vocale Ghent and Capriccio Stravagante Renaissance Orchestra.

Emilio de’ Cavalieri et al: Various
Huelgas Ensemble/Paul van Nevel — La Pellegrina (Sony Vivarte , 1998)
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Emilio de’ Cavalieri et al: Various
Taverner Consort, Choir, and Players/Andrew Parrott — Una ‘stravaganza’ dei Medici (EMI, 1988)
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Emilio de’ Cavalieri et al: Various
Collegium Vocale Ghent and the Capriccio Stravagante Renaissance Orchestra/Skip Sempe — La Pellegrina, Intermedii 1589 (Paradizo, 2008)
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Bernard Gordillo

Bernard Gordillo was born in Managua, Nicaragua, and raised in New Orleans. He holds degrees from Centenary College of Louisiana, the Early Music Institute at Indiana University, and the Guildhall School of Music and Drama (London). Bernard also writes and hosts the Harmonia Early Music Podcast.

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