The ballet begins with an instrumental entrata for the dancers, and the Poet sings a prologue, punctuated by the music of the entrata, in which he envisages an age of peace under Ferdinand’s rule. Taking a lyre, he addresses Ferdinand, and then invites the ladies to dance and the nymphs of the Danube (Istro) to join them. They dance first to a chorus, ‘Movete al mio bel suon’, and then to ‘any other dance without song’ (Monteverdi does not supply this) before the second part of ‘Movete al mio bel suon’. Although Monteverdi’s ballet is itself brief, it was probably intended to be performed in the midst of other music, and may have been followed by social dancing.
from notes by John Whenham © 2014
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