2018, Perception and Reception in the Reconstruction of the ballet “Martel d’Amore”, from Lione Tolosa to Barbara Sparti.

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The purpose of this paper is to set forth our analysis of the Perception and Reception procedure followed by Barbara Sparti during the genesis, development and conclusion of one of her last works of reconstruction, interpretation and revival of a ballet of the end of the XVI century: Martel d’Amore Baletto di Lione Tolosa hebreo. The manuscript containing the description of the Baletto is preserved at the Biblioteca Estense of Modena and was brought to light by the musicologist Kathryn Bosi, author of the essay Leone Tolosa and Martel d’amore: a balletto della duchessa discovered, published in 2005 («Recercare: rivista per lo studio e la pratica della musica antica», XVII, Lucca, LIM, 2005, p. 5-70), the source of Barbara Sparti’s inspiration.

Performed on the 21st of January, 1582 at the Estense Court of Ferrara, the Martel d’Amore was danced by eight noble ladies, including Margherita Gonzaga, the wife of Alfonso II d’Este, to whom Fabritio Caroso had dedicated the Ballet Este Gonzaga.

Although the manuscript gives no indication of the music, the Baletto is however extremely rich from a choreographic point of view and all details are accurately described. The combination of steps draws on the typical vocabulary of the second half of the XVI century, in the style of the first Caroso (Ballarino) and of Cesare Negri, and the choreographic figures are very like those of the “theatrical” dances of the Milanese maestro.

The title of Martel d’Amore: ballo a due chori di quattro Pastori e quattro Ninfe is also that of a literary document of the same period as the Baletto, attributed to the Italian dramatist and poet Giovanni Battista Guarini. It is thought that Guarini’s text was presumably set to music in the form of a madrigal (as in the similar case of Pastor fido) and, very probably, in this form accompanies Tolosa’s choreography.

In the absence of any original musical scores – either of the Baletto, or of the text – the choreographic reconstruction of Martel d’Amore required a further complex procedure of perception and reception, taking into account both the choreography and the literary text, in order to compose a musical score in style, a procedure already accomplished by Barbara in collaboration with musicians for several Italian dances of the XV century.

The Perception/Reception was necessary to understand how the step sequences relate to the choreographic figures and to the dramatic meaning given them by Tolosa, in order to establish a plausible rhythmic proposal, probably connected with the meaning of the text, suited to the syllabication of the words and the setting to music. Composition of the music score required close collaboration with the harpsichordist Silvia Rambaldi who, together with Barbara, thrashed out the new composition beat by beat.

The music was composed for one and two sopranos and basso continuo, following a practice that started at the end of the XVI century. Of great inspiration were the madrigals for one, two and three sopranos by Luzzaschi, the Balletti by Gastoldi, the Frottole by Tromboncino and, generally speaking, the melodies and rhythms of the dance music of the time. Each section of the choreography features a specific theme, with alternating major and minor tones, binary and ternary rhythms, solo voice and polyphony.

The reconstruction, worked out with the collaboration of a group of advanced-level students and teachers of the Musica Antica course at Urbino, and subsequently completed by the group of “Curiosi”, to which the authors of this paper belong, was conducted alternately over a five-year period, from 2006 to 2011

In Italy, the reconstructed Baletto has had two performances: the first at Urbino, directed by Barbara herself, and the second at Ferrara directed by Laura Fusaroli Pedrielli.
Retracing the reconstruction procedure for Martel d’Amore after several years, on the lines proposed by the Conference, will allow us to assess other aspects, not originally examined, such as the socio- political value of Tolosa’s dance at that time, that of Ladies performing male roles, the spatial perception of the dance when it was performed and nowadays… in brief, about the choreographic project of Lione Tolosa’s, what kind of Perception and Reception we experienced during our reconstruction process? What kind of Perception and Reception is possible today through our reconstruction guided by Barbara Sparti?

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Gloria Giordano – Dancer, choreographer and scholar of historical dance.
Gloria graduated from the National Academy of Dance in Rome, where she taught Dance Theory. She furthered her studies with, among others, C. Bayle, A. Feves, F. Lancelot, B. Sparti, A. Yepes. In 1985 she co-founded the dance company La Follia (F. Sparapani) and also she was invited to dance with Italian and foreign companies (the last: Donaires, A. Yepes and Doulce Mémoire, cor. H. Hazebroucq). She choreographed dances and gesturing for operas by Cesti, Monteverdi, Purcell, Mozart, Händel, for international festivals, including Innsbrucker Festwochen der Alten Musik. As choreographer she took part in “Opera Bhutan 2013” and “JapanOrfeo” projects (director S. Vizioli, conductor A. Carpenè). In 2005 she edited the Balletti of G. Grossatesta (Venice, 1726) and, with A. Pontremoli, Barbara Sparti’s book, Dance, Dancers and Dance-Masters in Renaissance and Baroque Italy (2015). Since 2012 she has been responsible for the dance book series “BIBLIOTECA di DANZA” (Massimiliano Piretti Editore). 

Laura Fusaroli Pedrielli is a scholar and interpreter of historical dance. She was teaching classic dance and ballet from 1975 to 2000. Since 1987 she has deepened her study of the Renaissance and Baroque dance in Italy, France and Germany, working with the most important teachers at an international level. She collaborated with the Theatre Centre of Ferrara University. She teaches in many Contradas of Ferrara Palio and she holds current updating for teachers, musicians, organizations and cultural Associations. She had an annual teaching  contract in the Renaissance and Baroque Dance laboratory in the Conservatorio G.B.Martini (Bologna) and she held updating courses in the Ferrara Conservatorio G.Frescobaldi and Conservatorio N.Sala of Benevento.  In 2009 she was invited as a teacher for Renaissance Dance at the Courses of the Cracovia Dance Festival. She has produced choreographies for historical processions and theatrical activities and intervened with the “Bal’danza” historical dance company in television programs.

Silvia Rambaldi is a Professor of harpsichord at the “Martini” Conservatory in Bologna. She also gave advanced Thorough Bass classes and seminars. She is a soloist and also performs with other well known soloists and chamber groups, taking part in important festivals in Italy and abroad. She broadcast on RAI, NHK and other media networks. She is an active musicologist and she serves as a member of the jury in national and international competitions. She has recorded works by Pasquini, Bassani, Barbara Strozzi, Antonia Bembo, Mancini, Ferradini, Frescobaldi and others. She also produced a modern edition of the 17th century manuscript Ravenna 545, “Il Libro di Fra Gioseffo da Ravenna”. With singers and researchers she performed the “Concerto segreto”, a formation dealing with the madrigal repertoire of the late Ferrarese Renaissance. She and Daniele Salvatore founded the baroque ensemble Armonia delle Sfere. She plays ancient musical instruments of the Tagliavini Collection in Bologna.