Video: Ballo del Gran Duca di Firenze



The performance takes place in front of Albert II, King of Belgium, members of his immediate family, and hundreds of guests. The video is apparently of an excerpt from a televised event—only one piece is performed.

Jean Tubery, director and cornettist, leads La Fenice and the Chamber Choir of Namur in a work known as the “Ballo del gran duca di Firenze,” a deservedly popular composition by Emilio de’ Cavalieri and a hit tune from the Late Renaissance.

And while the piece is also known in its original form as “O che nuovo miracolo,” the closing movement from the de’ Medici intermedi of 1589, the work is not presented in that way. In fact, only a section of Cavalieri’s composition is used as a starting point from which follows a series of dances and instrumental variations.

The violins and cornetti trade divisions, the organist plays the tune alone in between more grander moments, and the choir frames it all while interjecting throughout. The performance is a beautifully presented arrangement designed to show off the ensemble.

Yet, the most impressive part of the performance begins just before the four-minute mark.

A couple dressed in Renaissance costume, who have been sitting off-stage and out of view, rise and begin to move. But they’re not just any couple. They are two dancers who immediately begin processing—slowly and elaborately—towards the center and in front of the stage.

The potential for anachronistic clash dissipates when it becomes apparent that their dancing is not only excellent, but captivating. The dancers match their movements to the mood of every section of music right through to the final Galliard.

A stunning performance.

[UPDATE, 01/31/2011: The video has been removed from YouTube.]

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