Sometimes you watch a movie and you discover something that feels special to you: a cute actor, a funny line, a touching line, an image, a song. I have discovered some great music from watching movies. I like to think that being the soundtrack supervisor for a film would be one of the coolest jobs. I remember a few years back I watched the french film “Comme Une Image” (“Look At Me”.) It was a touching Agnès Jaoui film, sometimes brutal, sometimes funny, sometimes beautiful. It was about this chubby girl who has self confidence issues, but has the gift of a magnificent voice.
What I vividly remember from the film is a scene at an old small church where she & her classmates give a recital. And she sings one of the most touching pieces I have ever heard, “Amor, dicea” from Claudio Monteverdi’s “Lamento della Ninfa“. At that point I didn’t know who was the composer or what the piece was called. But the melody stayed with me. I couldn’t forget it.
A couple of weeks ago I saw a listing for an upcoming Handel and Haydn Society concert “Zest for Love” at Sanders Theater in Cambridge featuring music by Monteverdi, poetry by Shakespeare. I got instantly excited, “Zest for love, Monteverdi, I’ll be damned if they don’t perform Amor,” I thought. And they did perform it. A classical music concert sounds like a more decent thing to do on a day (February 14) that it’s imperative to celebrate love. I have a problem with this hallmark holiday. I can celebrate love everyday or simply whenever I want, I don’t need anybody to tell me when. But for some people that day is important, and attending the concert was much better than going to an expensive and busy restaurant.
So we spent that Sunday afternoon listening to the magnificent music of Monteverdi performed by a very good orchestra and chorus. My favorite piece “Amor, dicea” came in at about the middle of the concert. Listening to it live was an amazing experience. And it wasn’t just a sonic experience; I could feel the music with my whole body. It was moving, it was touching, it was simply beautiful…
Note: You can listen to “Lamento della Ninfa” here; “Amor, dicea”, the second part, starts at 1:34 and is performed by Natalie Dessay.