Her Father’s Voice
On the 1st November 2019, we put on the first performance of the musical play about
Barbara Strozzi at the Brighton Early Music Festival, in collaboration with Wise Child
Theatre. Four singers, three instrumentalists and five actors performed music by
Barbara Strozzi, Claudio Monteverdi, Nicolo Fontei and Benedetto Ferrari interspersing
scenes which portrayed Barbara’s early life from 1637. The project celebrated Barbara’s
400th birthday as she was born in 1619.
This has been the largest project Fieri has undertaken so far; it required a huge amount
of research, development and rehearsal, and collaboration with a large number of
people. We also had to overcome several challenges throughout 2019 including not
receiving enough funding and our director becoming ill. These problems led us to adapt
the play into a temporary small-scale version which we are now selling to promoters as
the ‘soirée’. It presents just one scene from the play - one of the Strozzis’ famous
academic meetings and features just singers and instrumentalists with no actors. This
has been very useful as it allows smaller venues/promoters to still put on the ‘soirée’.
This smaller-scale version was performed on the 8th March at the Watts Gallery,
Guildford on International Women’s Day and the 20th July at Sounds Sublime Festival,
The full play led us to dive deep into Barbara Strozzi’s music. To be so immersed in her
life and voice was extremely rewarding, and something musicians don’t get to do very
often. It also brought many other characters that we all know to life such as Monteverdi,
her father Giulio, the other composers Ferrari and Fontei. It was particularly exciting to
develop the character of her mother, Isabella, who is barely recorded in history, but who
must have been a significant influence on Barbara.
The project also helped us to develop individually - we were all pushed outside of our
comfort zones as it required us to perform from memory and to communicate with our
audience in a more direct way in both the soirée version and the full play. Working like
this was very liberating and rewarding and we hope to build on this in future projects.
We hope that taking risks like this helps to set us apart from other ensembles.
Part of the research undertaken was the translation of original sources from Italian to
English, such as the ‘ Veglie de'Signori academici Unisoni bavuta in Venetia in casa del
Signor Giulio Strozzi’ published in 1638. This was fascinating work which we conducted
with the help of Dr Elisabetta Toreno at the University of Glasgow. Throughout the
course of the project we have also become acquainted with musicologists and editors
around the world specialising in Barbara Strozzi and her contemporaries. These
sources have never been fully translated. This piqued the interest of other scholars
leading us to have ambitions to continue the translation process beyond what was
needed for the play. These are invaluable connections which we hope to build on
through Fieri’s future projects and could also open doors to international performances.
(we are currently pursuing a performance in Florence at the Villa i tatti, for example).
For the future of the project, we are currently finishing a promotional video which
features footage from the performance and rehearsal of the play as well as interviews
with singers and actors about the significance of the project. We plan to send this to
prospective promoters and the Arts Council to create a tour of small theatres in the
North of England. We are also beginning to develop the ‘soirée’ version into a dining
experience in order to try to reach new younger audiences especially in London. This is
something we have been working on over the last couple of years. The main targets will
be widening our audience base but also educating people about Strozzi’s life and
music. Potential venues for this at the moment are the Fidelio Orchestra Café in
Clerkenwell and the Bussey Building in Peckham. We have begun to work with a
producer at Rouge Events to develop this idea further.
We did not raise all of the funds we were aiming for so rehearsal time had to be cut
down to a minimum, and the stagecraft suffered as a result. For future performances,
we will take on board all the feedback we have received to develop this further and
achieve a better quality result.
We are enormously grateful for the encouragement, support and generous financial
help on this project from Angel. The reason for starting this project was to put the music
we are performing into context and to further educate our audience, beyond the usual
programme notes, and we believe we succeeded. Thank you so much for helping us to
achieve this. We are excited to continue to look for ways to immerse ourselves and our
audiences in the music we choose to perform in the future.
The Times *** “Highly expressive singing”
The Observer, Bognor Regis
“Fieri Consort’s Strozzi career is warmly re-clothed by Wise Child Theatre. The exuberant
acting, and Bauckham’s often highly humorous script makes this look a promising occasional
artistic partnership. Now it is up to Early Music to increase those occasions.”
“...this was delivered with exceptional and seamless confidence...assertive, strikingly
The Latest, Brighton ****
“Their impressive technique never detracted from the eloquence of their delivery. They
conveyed the echo of Strozzi’s own voice.”