Legends, magic, love and torments in music at the time of the „Tale of tales“


In 1643, in Naples, the probably most important collection of stories and folk tales of all times has been published: the „Pentamerone“ (the five-days-work) or „lo cunto de li cunti“ (the tale of tales) by Giambattista Basile. During five days each day ten tales are told. Basile with this work brought to live the genre of the Fairy Tale wich later on, adopted by the Grimm brothers, Perraut and Brentano, will spread like a wildfire all over Europe.


As in the „Pentameron“ stories from both oral tradition and classical literature go along side by side, we have put together songs of both folk and classical origin in this project, some of them even cited by Basile in his work. Our idea is to give the listener a feeling of the atmosphere felt in the yards and courts.

The tales and songs give live to characters of tormented existence in search of possibilities to change there own destinies. 

Concerning the songs of classical provenience we have searched among the „Villanelle“ mentioned by Basile in his book considering that he had quite close relationships with some musicians of his time. Actually, since he was a habitual frequenter of the musical environment some of the songs are even attributed to himself.

Regarding the popular songs we searched among the sites Basile describes in his tales, such as the Basilicata and Puglia, places he knew very well being even governor of some of them. Often the stories take place in these landscapes and so we finally have decided to look for songs right there.


Selecting the music for this program took us about two years of research in popular and early music. By finding out that there are quite many similarities between the two genres this inspired us to write two pieces by our own in both styles of typical Neapolitan renaissance such as Villanelle or dance music, and traditional folk music. In Naples, at that time a strange phenomenon took place: somehow folk music and art music where connected in a way that at some point is seems to be difficult to tell the difference between art and folk tradition.

Songs of delightful simplicity by Costanzo Festa, Baldassare Donato, G. Da Nola, G. Leonardo Dell’Arpa and Velardiniello, beautiful melodies that later on became the genre of "canzone napoletana" and conquered the world. 


Ensemble Oni Wytars: 

Gabriella Aiello - voice, castanets // Peter Rabanser - voice, baroque guitar, colascione // Marco Ambrosini - keyed vielle, mandolin // Riccardo Delfino - voice, harp, colascione // Michael Posch - recorders // Katharina Dustmann - percussions

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