So what is a masque?
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How did you find each other and get together to produce masques? We work very well together.
I feel tremendously lucky to be working with them on a regular basis! Any thoughts on how masque is, and is not, related to opera? Of course, most people now think of opera as being very grand and larger than life, which also relates to one of the goals of masque, which is to take the audience out of their own lives for a little while and beguile them with a combination of art forms.
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How have Toronto audiences responded to your productions? Our audience continues to grow and we offer gentle educational talks and material to give them a context for what they are seeing.
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Touring is definitely in the plans! Bach wrote some of his greatest works for the Christian feast days of Good Friday and Easter Sunday which are approaching. You can hear the Mass in B Minor twice this month: Benjamin Stein sings and plays on lute and theorbo: Vesuvius Ensemble presents I canti a Maria: Bacon also realised that imagination was the means by which our senses—our desires, emotions and feelings—communicate with the mind and give us ideas, and also the means by which the ideas, when worked out rationally, are put into action.
By understanding this, it is possible to see how and why poetry was used by Bacon and deemed by him to have such importance or usefulness. Francis Bacon considered drama, or dramatical poetry, to be the best means of educating people in moral virtue and the wisdom of the ancients, especially drama veiled in allegory and symbolism.
Dramatical, or Representative Poetry, which brings the world upon the stage, is of excellent use, if it were not abused… For although in modern commonwealths, stage-plays be but estimed a sport or pastime, unless it draw from the satyr and be mordant; yet the care of the Ancients was that it should instruct the minds of men unto virtue.
Nay, wise men and great philosophers have accounted it as the archet or musical bow of the mind.
Music of King Louis XV: The Masques at St. Paul's Episcopal Church | WUWM
But Poesie Allusive, or Parabolical, exceeds all the rest, and seemeth to be a sacred and venerable thing, especially seeing Religion itself hath allowed it a work of that nature, and by it traffics divine commodities with men… For it serves for obscuration, and it serveth also for illustration: In this Bacon was agreeing with a previous Lord Chancellor of England, Richard de Bury, one of the most learned men of the 14th-century: Accordingly the wisdom of the ancients devised a remedy by which to entice the wanton minds of men by a kind of pious fraud, the delicate Minerva secretly lurking beneath the mask of pleasure.
This same truth is a naked and open daylight, that doth not show the Masques, and Mummeries, and Triumphs of the world, half so stately and daintily as candle lights.
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Stage-playing [is] an art which strengthens the memory, regulates the tone and effect of the voice and pronunciation, teaches a decent carriage of the countenance and gesture, gives not a little assurance, and accustoms young men to bear being looked at. He also ran, together with his brother Anthony who was also a poet , an intelligence network that gathered detailed knowledge of all manner of things from various countries of Europe, especially France, Italy and Spain.
He was recognised as the greatest poet of them all and revered as their Apollo, the Daystar and leader of the Muses, of whom other poets were but the disciples. Bacon was involved in writing, producing and, in later life, sponsoring elaborate masques, devices and entertainments of various kinds.
Other major entertainments produced annually were for the Twelve Days of Christmas.