In 1850, Giuseppe Verdi began composing an opera based on a contentious play that was banned in France.  Victor Hugo’s Le Roi S’amuse featured a licentious ruler who did whatever he wanted, including seducing women and killing their husbands, and who did so without worrying about any consequences. 
          But Verdi’s opera was not complete fiction.  The title character in Rigoletto was based on a real jester, Nicolas Ferrial, called Triboulet, who lived from 1479 to 1536.  The sumptuous Renaissance setting of the opera influenced the composer, as did music from that time period.
          Collectio Musicorum (“Collection of Music”) presents highlights from Verdi’s opera alongside music of earlier composers, including Tromboncino, Monteverdi, Attaingnant, Sermisy, Gonzaga, Jannequin, Rossi, and others who are less well known, including the single surviving piece by the mysterious French composer Abel. 
          The performance takes place on Friday, May 17th at 8 PM at Christ and St. Stephen’s Church, 120 W 69th St, New York, NY 10023. Admission is free.  The church is accessible--there are no stairs between the performance space and the street.

This is a portrait of Triboulet, born Nicolas Ferrial, created c. 1550 by Jean Clouet.


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