Chromatic Labyrinth

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Piano-Wallpaper-music-24173621-1280-800Carlo, Prince and Count, imagined his wife in bed with another man. Not just any man, but his friend, the Duke of Andria.  Carlo noticed the Duke’s eyes always found the figure of Donna Maria more than pleasing. He noticed this look too often from the Duke, and he felt that the looks were too often returned . While Donna Maria protested her innocence, Carlo knew, in his heart, that she had already betrayed him…and would continue, this most vile of betrayals.

Unless…

These thoughts assailed Carlo as he pushed himself to compose. Music was his life-he knew that-but it, too, betrayed him.  His madrigals were politely received in court but ultimately…they were misunderstood by most and dismissed, mostly behind his back, but oh, how gossip reaches even the most closed off of ears!

He locked himself in his music room, the only living space he would occupy until he had finished this composition. Receiving food intermittently from his servant,  barely touching any of it, Carlo would not lie down to sleep, only dozing at his piano.  Nothing came out of his demand on the keys, tinkering, chords splitting into discordance instead of magnificence. Four days, and his mind wandered away from the task he set for himself.

Exhausted and light headed, it was on the latter part of the fourth day (although that was later told to him, as time had lost all meaning to him inside his cell) that the visions came. Donna Maria, nude, appeared to him. He stared across the room where she stood, and all his feelings for her rose to a grand level: lust, hatred, love, agony, pain, ecstasy…and rage. Word-paintings came to him. She sprawled, ever  so close, just beyond his reach. He used the keys of his instrument as knives, slashing down, sliding, pounding down until his fingers nails cracked and broke, leaving droplets of red on the ivory.

During all this, Donna Maria cavorted around the piano. She laughed in his face, touching herself, gliding across the room, behind him, leaping over or crawling under his piano. She would reach out to him, then pull away, her long black hair fanning out over the keyboard where he would try to grab a hold, only to have it whisked away. She twirled, and he played, and lost himself in his fury.

Every path he took drew him in deeper. He would sidle into a melody that would change, taking him in a new direction: most of them ending in a frustrating blockage, where he would only be able to retrace what he did, and go another way. And another. And another. Lost, in a place where meter and structure had no more sense, no meaning, and left him more desperate with each stroke of the keys.

Carlo was later told he unbarred the lock on his room and flung himself into the main foyer. Glassy eyed, he stalked past his ever waiting servant. Down the hall he  went, banging open the door to the armory, coming out with a saber in one hand and a gun in the other. The servant tried to talk to his master but was gutted, as witnessed by one of the maids who had come out to the main hall at the noise being made.

Cowering behind one of the marble columns, the maid heard her master rush up the stairs, a door bang open, and then another series of bangs as the gun went off, and screams from her mistress. She recounted that she heard sharp swishing noises, too many to count, her mistress’s cries loud and piercing, then fading, and then nothing.

Someone had summoned the constables, and the Sargent Major, known to all as a stable and strong man, could not report what he witnessed without feeling ill for quite awhile. Yes, he had seen battlefields, but the frenzy of the Count was like unto a butcher’s den. The Countess Donna Maria, and the Duke of Andria…

Carlo, Prince and Count, would stand trial for what he had done, but, in the end, he was freed. Money and ranking took care of that. He exiled himself from the city, trying to leave blood feuds and vendettas behind him. He withdrew more into his music, more into himself, and while he was lost in a complex labyrinth of creative madness, he composed.

And Donna Maria…she twirled around him for a very, very long time.

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6 responses »

  1. The evidence that Gesualdo was tortured by guilt for the remainder of his life is considerable, and he may have given expression to it in his music. One of the most obvious characteristics of his music is the extravagant text setting of words representing extremes of emotion: “love”, “pain”, “death”, “ecstasy”, “agony” and other similar words occur frequently in his madrigal texts, most of which he probably wrote himself. While this type of word-painting is common among madrigalists of the late 16th century, it reached an extreme development in Gesualdo’s music.

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  2. STu, I am commenting here because I am having trouble with wordpress. This story had me reading as fast as I could, then when done, I went back and read it again,slowly. Enjoyed it both times,. Dark and compelling, and seductive. Great to read one of your stories again!

    Be kind to one another.

    Date: Sun, 13 Jan 2013 20:20:33 +0000 To: jillmarieb@hotmail.com

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