Tuesday 30 September 2014

GESUALDO CASTLE REDUX.  The rebirth of Carlo Gesualdo’s princely residence.

Last month I visited Gesualdo, the home of Carlo Gesualdo, Prince of Venosa, famous for his musical genius, infamous for murdering his wife.

Igor Stravinski visited the site to do homage to the Renaissance composer.  I went to look at the castle, which is being renovated five hundred years after the composer's death.

My amiable host was Giuseppe Mastrominico, a Renaissance man himself, professor of law at the University of Naples, musicologist, choir director, organizer of concerts, and enthusiastic promoter of Gesualdo.
The castle was tenanted until 1980, when an earthquake made it uninhabitable and it was acquired by the town. The renovations have brought to light murals covered by stucco and high wooden ceilings concealed behind lower structures.

The splendid interior court is still masked by scaffolding, but by 2015 one wing will be ready for visitors.

If the initiatives of the town pay off, Gesualdo will become a centre of music, as it was under Prince Carlo.  A beginning has been made with the restoration of the Capella below the castle, which already serves as a concert hall.

But you are waiting to hear about Carlo’s murder? Was he punished? No, it was an honour killing. Carlo considered himself innocent in the eyes of the law, but not in the eyes of God. To atone for the murder, he founded a Capuchin monastery. The deed (framed, under glass) hangs behind the desk of Gesualdo’s mayor.

Carlo's signature, dated 1594

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