|Antoine Watteau: Italian Actors, c. 1719.|
During the year we taught together I was introduced in detail to some of the ideas that I had known through Watteau's paintings of the commedia dell’arte. One of my favorite characters was Pierrot Lunaire.
Dr. Lamott or "Doc" as his students called him also taught music history and introduced me to how Pierrot Lunaire was also portrayed by the great atonal composer Schoenberg.
Berliner actress and singer Albertine Zehme, an expert in melodrama, commissioned Schoenberg to compose a score based on Belgian poet Albert Giraud’s Pierrot Lunaire. She specifically requested something between words and music – a kind of ‘speech-song’. Giraud’s poems are moonlit dreams featuring characters from the commedia dell’arte, but the themes explored are dark and sombre, encompassing violence, death, religious heresy and the like.