The imagined history of troubadour Countess Beatriz de Dia.
A blending of history and fiction, this intimate concert/play takes you back to the heady
atmosphere 12th century Provence with plaintive songs and foot-stomping medieval dances.
Tickets £12, £10 concessions. Buy on the door, from Bridgewood and Neitzert at 146 Stoke Newington Church St, or on-line at wegottickets.com (with a 10% booking fee)
Jan Chappell plays the redoubtable Beatriz, a feisty woman troubadour, trapped in a loveless marriage. She meets fellow troubadour Raimbaut d’Aurenga and they embark on a passionate affair. But Beatriz has enemies at court and as summer moves to autumn and events spiral inevitably towards their conclusion, Beatriz channels her feelings into her song A Chantar, the only troubadour song by a woman, where both poetry and melody survive.
Now (And Beatriz’s childhood castle home, Provence, 1151
Guillem’s castle, Provence, in the years 1155, 1167 and, 1210)
Jan Chappell as Beatriz, La Comtessa de Dia
Clare Norburn soprano
Joy Smith harps, recorder, percussion
Clare Salaman vielle, tromba marina, nyckelharpa hurdy gurdy, percussion
Script: Clare Norburn
Lighting: Natalie Rowland and Pitch Black Lighting
Music arranged by The Telling
The fascination of the troubadours
For many years I have been fascinated by the troubadours, a large group of poet-musician/singer-songwriters, both men and women, who worked in the southern half of France from approximately 1100 to 1270.
So many of our ideas about romantic love (including the concept of love at first sight) have pervaded down the centuries and stem from the idea of Fin Amor and the code of courtly love enshrined in troubadour poetry. Yet, many of ideas integral to troubadour poetry also seem foreign to our modern ideals about what love can and ought to be. These include the idea that you can’t truly be in love the person you are married to, and that one can only be truly in love if one experiences jealousy.
Fin Amor, meaning “True” or “Pure Love”, is bound up with the idea of chivalry and courtly love and this is a particularly complicated area that has provoked much learned debate between historians. The main reason for the debate is that much of the poetry is deliberately obscure – some is written in code – and on one level is crafted only to be understood by the lover. There are also numerous references in the poems and songs to popular stories that haven’t survived and therefore mean nothing to us. Who are the Floris and Blanchaflor or Seguis and Valenca to whom Beatriz refers in her songs? We simply don’t know. The differences and the oblique references mean that the poetry and songs of the troubadours need some explaining in order to appreciate them fully.
Yet, despite all these obstacles to our understanding, these poems also speak surprisingly directly and are unusually personal for the age. They are also heart-felt and use powerful and breath-taking imagery – as exemplified by Bernart de Ventadorn’s stunning poem Can vei la lauzetta mover:
When I see the skylark swoop in joy towards its love the sun,
then forgetting everything as it lets itself fall, for the sweetness that comes to its heart,
I feel a great envy come over me of everyone whom I see rejoicing,
I wonder that my heart does not melt from desire.