An autobiographical mediaeval French romance in a time of war and plague – as told by poet and composer Guillaume de Machaut.
In 1359 the English attempted to lay siege to Rheims – a crucial prize in the Hundred Years’ War as France’s coronation city; two years later France’s greatest poet and composer, Guillaume de Machaut entertained the heir to the throne and in 1364 witnessed the coronation of Charles the Fifth.
But the early 1360s were exciting and fruitful for Machaut for other reasons: he began a lengthy correspondence with a young female admirer and documented their friendship in what he called the 'book of the true story', Le Livre du Voir Dit, containing over 9000 lines of poetry, and the letters, love-poems, and songs they sent to each other – the ultimate 14th-century multimedia presentation. The accuracy of the narrative Machaut sets down in his 'true poem' is sometimes questionable, but there is a ring of veracity in the haphazard and sometimes contradictory recollections of the course of what must be true love…
Semistaged program of music & words by Guillaume de Machaut:
Ballade 32 – Ploures dames
Rondeau 13 – Dame se vous n’avez aperceu
Ballade 33 – Nes que on porroit
Rondeau 4 – Sans cuer dolens
Lai 13 – ‘Le Lay de bonne esperance’
Rondeau 17 – Dix et sept, cinq
Rondeau 18 – Puis qu’en oubli
Ballade 34 – Quant Theseus / Ne quier veoir
Ballade 36 – Se pour ce muir
Ballade 31 – De toute flours