, September 2009
The elements of the artist Caravaggio’s tumultuous life, his artistic achievement, and historical perspective, are all reflected in the DVD of the Berlin State Ballet’s DVD production of Caravaggio, choreographed by Mauro Bigonzetti, with a new score by Bruno Moretti drawn from the early Baroque music of Claudio Monteverdi.
Michelangelo Merisi was the innovative, notorious Renaissance painter known as Caravaggio, taken from the Italian village in which his family lived. Though he lived only a brief life, art history points to Caravaggio as having a profound influence on the new Baroque style of art that exploded in the early 17th century after his death. This Italian master of “darkness and light,” or chiaroscuro painting, frequently depicted vivid, real images of intense emotion, bathed in light against dark backdrops. Such elements are to be found reflected within Berlin State Ballet’s production based on Caravaggio’s life and art, but with intentional modern twists. Caravaggio’s influential impact on the development of Western art was only rediscovered 300 years later, in the 20th century, and the ballet’s creators wanted this rediscovery to be incorporated…Bruno Moretti’s score admirably demonstrates the company’s creative intent to reflect 20th century rediscovery of important Renaissance art. The composer utilizes modern musical language and full orchestral scoring, frequently drawn from spare themes by Monteverdi, but interspersed with entirely new sounds, too. Caravaggio’s creative designs are also major highlights, with Carlo Cerri’s outstanding chiaroscuro lighting and Kristopher Millar and Lois Swandale’s beautifully rendered, spare, shroud-like costumes that reflected Caravaggesque imagery with a fluid modernism...There are a few gorgeous dances, especially in the first act of mostly small ensembles intended to interpret several of Caravaggio’s most famous paintings, especially ones performed against dramatic, direct Monteverdi quotes in the score…Overall, this DVD is worth seeing once to hear Moretti’s interesting orchestrations, and the gorgeous production values.