July 23

Impromptu Motets in Orvieto’s Duomo

2  comments

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On July 14, we piled into our two big tour buses to make our way north from Rome to Florence, which is our next scheduled concert stop. Our tour guides had scheduled a lunch stop for us at Orvieto, which is a small hill town about half way along in our journey.

Big buses can’t enter the town, which you access via either the furnicular (which was out of order) or smaller city buses. Atop the hill, the little village spreads out from a central piazza dominated by a highly ornamented church (Duomo) that was built there after a miracle occurred during a mass celebration nearby. Apparently there had been some question about the bread for the mass not actually being the body of Christ, yet when the priest broke the bread, blood rand down his arms (the blood of Christ, one assumes) and dropped onto the altar cloth. In the Cappella del Corporal (a side chapel off the main sanctuary) the reliquary containing the cloth, with the two drops of blood still visible, sits encased in glass, displayed over the altar.

After a delicious lunch, about which Mike has already blogged, at the Trattoria del Etrusca, the church doors opened for a wedding and we were all able to get inside. The outside is spectacular enough to hold your attention, however, since the entire front façade of the building is covered in bright mosaics depicting various scenes of the life of Christ. Inside, the space is cool and, again, highly decorated.
Here’s a rather blurry image of our impromptu concert of a few motets, taken before Mike figured out how to do the low light clear picture maneuver on his new camera. I apologize for the blur, but at least you’ll get an idea of what it looks like inside.

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Our tour guides were able to persuade the priest to allow us to sing a couple of motets in the space; the acoustics at the Duomo at Orvieta are even more perfectly suited for Renaissance music than St. Peter’s, because of Orvieto’s more intimate size. The sound of Ubi Caritas and Sicut Cervus done impromptu there is something none of us will forget.


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  1. I’ve been meaning to ask this for a while, and this seems as appropriate a time as any. Do you have any nutritional advice specifically for singers?

    COMMENT from MD EADES:  Interesting that you should ask and although I don’t have any hard science to offer I can relate a curious tale that our mezzo soloist on the tour told me one day over a breakfast of eggs, sausage, and fruit.  Years ago when she was working on building her solo oratorio and opera careers, she went on Atkins to lose a little weight.  Her voice teacher at the time asked if she was doing something different, that her voice had changed.  She said she’d started a diet and he told her to stop it, that it was altering her voice; so she did. Recently she’s returned to a low-carb way of life and feels great and doesn’t feel that it’s changed her voice, so asked what I thought might have happened before.  With nothing to go on but educated supposition, I offered that since the voice mechanism relies totally on fine control of the muscles of the larynx and since going from high carb to low carb can alter potassium and magnesium balance dramatically and since magnesium, calcium, and potassium balance are integral to smooth muscle function that perhaps she had dropped her levels of one or all of these critical ions and hadn’t replaced them sufficiently in the early going.  For what it’s worth, I know that for myself (my anecdotal ‘n’ of 1) I sing better if I supplement my low carb diet with a little extra magnesium and potassium on rehearsal or concert nights.

  2. Hi There,
    I hoped you enjoyed your trip to Europe. I have a question to ask, how can I do a low carb Morney Sauce? I need a cheese sauce to put on broccoli but want something some real flavor other than melting Velveeta cheese with some cream. Do you have any ideas or resources?

    Thank you

    COMMENT from MD EADES:  How about I’ll put up our favorite version on on the blog for all to share?

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