«Die Frauen, o, die Frauen!
During autumn 2019 and spring 2020, Bettina will dedicate much time to her research project «Die Frauen, O, die Frauen», about women composers in Art Song.
The project will include recording a CD containing works for voice and piano by women composers, and participating in putting together an anthology of art songs, also by women composers.
Bettina will collaborate with the eminent dutch pianist Jan Willem Nelleke on the recording. The CD will be released on LAWO Classics during spring 2020.
«Elisabeth -Claude Jacquet de la Guerre – The Miracle Performer»
Gesture has therefore this Advantage above mere Speaking, that by this we’re only understood by those of our own Language, but by Action and Gesture (I mean just and regular Action) we make our Thoughts and Passions intelligible to all Nations and Tongues.” ‘The life of Thomas Betterton’ (1710) [p.50] by Charles Gildon
(Thomas Betterton – 1635-1710 – famous English actor)
In this project Bettina Smith and her colleague from The University of Stavanger, Associate Professor Lise K. Meling, look at the French performer and composer Élisabeth-Claude Jacquet de La Guerre (1665-1729).
We contextualize her and her role as a harpsichordist and organist in the midst of the musical life in the court of King Louis XIV as well as her prosperous career as an active performer in the center of Paris, by looking at various contemporary statements, as well as drawing upon other articles from contemporary reviews, letters and encyclopedias.
However, the main focus is the performative aspect: both when it comes to La Guerre as performer herself, as well as how to perform her works today. Her main output consists of solo cantatas and solo harpsichord works. In order to perform these, we will discuss what performers need to add to the score, in order for it to make sense, since the score is very sparsely notated.
In her solo cantatas the performers need to reflect upon ornamentation, rhythmic alterations and continuo realization. In addition, an interesting feature of these cantatas is how to and when (or if) to include Baroque gestures.
Physical gestures used to be an integral, obligatory part of performing French vocal music in the Baroque era. This is true not only for the French baroque opera, but also the chamber repertory, such as for instance cantatas. Though the tradition of ornamentation has remained in practice to this day, the practice of gestures has disappeared.
Our wish is to now explore how the re-introduction of performance of gestures in French cantatas can impact interaction between audience and performer, and affect the audience’s understanding of the repertory.