Whips and Galleys, Ruffians and Thieves: The Musical Underground of the Jácarta in 17th-century Spain
Indiana History Center; June 27
Jácartas are basically songs about sin; of street people and about transgressions both outside of and within the church hierarchy (nothing's changed much, has it?). Most of what we heard Sunday evening were arrangements by our performers of surviving texts and notation from that place and period. Despite most of the lyrics describing prostitutes and their pimps, the text material — translated as super titles on a full screen above the stage — was never as bawdy as many Elizabethan songs of 16th-century England. Ensemble Viscera, like Artek two evenings earlier, is not only also New York based, but three of its five performers played and sang in both groups. Soprano Nell Snaidas made her first appearance last weekend with Viscera and provided the best singing heard in both evenings. Her vocal control delivered just the right opulence for this early/middle Baroque period, plus it should be recalled that Snaidas appeared in two Early Music programs last summer. After dominating in a sequence with the title, "Punishments, Minor and Major" and the song "Galeritas de España," Snaidas highlighted the evening with — as translated: "Old Ballad of the Confession of a Lady Accusing Herself of Breaking the Ten Commandments," by Luis Briçeño from 1626. Nell Snaidas is welcome back any time — with any group.