Maurice Ravel?Ravel's Three Songs for Unaccompanied Choir is among his least known and least recorded works. These songs, with lyrics penned by the composer himself, nevertheless reflect the life-long preoccupation of Ravel: his fascination about the magical imagination of childhood, and his patriotism (he enlisted as a voluntary ambulance driver during WWI, after he was rejected for military service). In the third song, "Rondo", old men and old ladies warn children about all the woods and all the evil supernatural creatures there. The children, sure enough, never set foot there -- but that's because all the cool devils and goblins have been scared away by the elder folk. In the second song, the plumage of the "Beautiful Birds of Paradise" -- blue, white and red -- reminds the protagonist of her lover who has gone to war.
The first song, "Nicolette", is more sinister. Nicolette picks wild flowers in the meadow. She encounters the Big Bad Wolf, who offers to take her to Grandma. Nicolette runs away. She then meets a handsome page, who wants to be her lover. She turns away blushing. Finally, she meets a fat, ugly, smelly man with a big grey beard, who entices her with gold. Nicolette runs straight into his arms -- and she is never seen again.
Poppea and Nero are a bunch of nutters. The whole court are a bunch of nutters.Sometimes when I drag myself away from Schubert, RVW and Chopin I then wallow in opera. This piece is at once amazing, disturbing and unfathomable. Monteverdi (and the performers, P. Jaroussky and D. de Niese) capture besotted psychopathic obsession so beautifully. But the libretto does capture what it is to be besotted.