Story of Jephtah: An Oragorio by Giacomo Carissimi English Translation and Dramatic Staging
AuthorBishop, Bruce W.
AdvisorChamberlain, Bruce B.
Committee ChairChamberlain, Bruce B.
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractAlthough the Latin oratorio Jephtah by Giacomo Carissimi (1605-74) is well known to the scholarly and musicological communities, the work has remained relatively inaccessible to general audiences in the United States for a variety of reasons. The lengthy Latin text poses problems for inexperienced church and school singers in the United States, most of whom neither read nor understand Latin. Moreover, many American church congregations and school concert audiences lack the musical sophistication required to follow an English translation in a concert program while simultaneously assimilating a complex work such as Jephtah, leaving them with an incomplete sense of the drama and religious themes of the libretto. This is true even of a relatively sophisticated group such as the Eastern Arizona College A Cappella Choir who I conducted for my lecture-recital performance of Jephtah. In short, the challenge of language provides an obstacle that distances general audiences and many singers from the emotional impact of the story.The research undertaken for my lecture-recital and the accompanying document has suggested the following solutions to these problems. The scope and drama of Jephtah can be rendered more accessible to performers and audiences if the oratorio is performed in a fluent English translation that respects the word placement and the meaning of the original text while capturing the energy and drama of Carissimi's musical setting. The power and expression of Carissimi's music can be realized through historically-informed vocal production in the choir. The instrumentalists can be trained to accurately perform seventeenth-century continuo realization. To strengthen the understandability and impact of the drama and the religious themes of the story, I staged the oratorio with blocking, gestures, costumes, and properties. Although no systematic attempt was made to assess in impact of this manner of performance upon the ensemble or the audience, this approach to performance appeared to be well received by both. This success suggests that this is an effective way to introduce general audiences to this work.