TGTBT – I hit you because I love you

Created by Ex Novo Ensemble @ Mittelfest, July 18th, 2017, Cividale del Friuli (I),
Commissioned by Klarafestival/MUSMA


commission note by Artistic Director MITTELFEST ITALY, Franco Calabretto :

Let’s go back to Latin, the universal language for centuries in Europe and in all the known world.

Ovidio is one of the greatest lyric poet of all time, the poet of universal love, taken up and reread from the Middle Ages till today, two thousand years after his death.

I like the idea to marry ancient language and modern music language; I thought about an instrumentation that already Debussy used in his 1916 Sonata. The timbre is anti-romantic instead of classical trio: piano, violin and cello. Instead of the lyric sound of the violin, he privileges the elegiac flute, the viola instead of the tenor sound of the cello; the Arcadian sound of and harp instead of romantic eloquence of the piano.

A descriptive instrumentation, elegiac and pastoral. A beautiful challenge for young composers and very attractive for public.

program note by composer Joris Blanckaert :

When I read Ovid’s Ars Amatoria, I was astounded by the blunt sexism – at least if one reads the original Latin text or a faithful translation, such as the English version by A.S. Kline.  Of course this can be understood as a historical mindset from a different era.  Yet to me this could not justify the statement of the composition commission that “Ovidio is (…) the poet of universal love, taken up and reread from the Middle Ages to today.”  If we talk about today, Ovidius shows himself a bold narcissist and misogyn.

“Though you call it force: it’s force that pleases girls: what delights
is often to have given what they wanted, against their will.”
Ovid, Ars Amatoria – translated by A.S. Kline.
Ovid glorifies rape, which even at that era wasn’t considered a daily practice or a service to women.  Donald Trump pales into light orange.
Calling this ‘universal love’ is ill-considered.  The use of the word ‘love’ in this context is tendencious in the first place, since lust is the closest emotion his poems depict.  Today, there is no point in criticizing Ovid.  He has passed away a long time ago and lived in a different society.  Yet one could reflect on reasons and incentives why we, contemporary artists, would honor him and his art, exactly 2000 years after his death, why we would pay attention to his oeuvre and his ideas.
Those might be the very same reasons and incentives why our contemporary society is still marked by omnipresent sexism, internet porn, humiliating advertising, etc…
However, it is a satisfying thought that, against all odds, woman will eventually conquer.  Also in ‘TGTBT – I hit you because I love you’.