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Entertainments to accompany banquets

Julia Berger
Music - Theatre - Dance
Music and Well-being
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The entertainment for a banquet is uniformly double-faced: in fact there is an orderly succession of dishes for the guests presented with dramatic success for the guests admiration in counterpoint to the reality transformed by the performance of the actors, the music, the dancing and the scenic devices.
There is the entertainment during the banquet, there is the entertainment of the banquet, and there is the banquet as part of the festive entirety.
The offering of food is thus the cenntral moment of the festive “liturgy”. The array of wines and dishes, the copious variety, the exercise of refined culinnary art all combine to reflect glory on the host’s family, his nobility and to magnify his power.The succession of courses is an integral part of the banquet, steward, carver, cup-bearer servants swell a choreography which takes the culinary “spectacle” from kitchen to dining-hall, to table then to dish.

Chronicles, antique documents, handwritten or printed cookery books all demonstrate a great and widespread refinement of taste, and an ingenuity equal to that used for other arts in courtly life. Even the strictly culinary element must contribute to the admiration that the celebration elicits for the glory of the Prince. The complex juxtaposition of tastes, flavours scents and colours stimulate the intelligence to go beyond the limits of our sensitivity and use the palate as an instrument to appreciate, beyond merely vivisectional philology, the ‘flavours’ of a period, its music, its arts.
Throughout the 17th century banqueting entertainments reflected an ever-increasing demand for sophisticated celebrations: there was an extraordinary use of festive apparatus, created combining all the arts in the name of “invention”. Performances of this kind went on for one or more days according to the importance of the occasion.
It was the custom to dine both out of doors and indoors. According to the seating arrangements, the tables were set along all the walls or only on the front wall, so that there was room in the middle for attendants, servants, actors, singers, musicians and dancers.

Music for banquets >