As mezzo-soprano Annie Rosen launched fearlessly into “Malorous qu’o uno fenno” (wretched is he who has a wife), a grin that fell just short of laughter spread from her face to her bare feet, rooted firmly in the floor.
Behind her, members of Cantata Profana joined the arrangement, swinging and swaying wildly to the words as if their instruments were mere – and necessary – extensions of their bodies.
The lyrics brought to life the playful ninth movement of Luciano Berio’s “Folk Songs,” the final piece in Cantata Profana’s intimate and energetic performance titled “Root Music” on Saturday evening at the Off Broadway Theater in the alley behind Toad’s Place.
The choice of “Folk Songs” was in many ways a testament to what the ensemble stands for: a nuanced approach to complex, emotional and largely underperformed works of music. Not unlike the group – worldly performers culled from Yale’s School of Music and Institute for Sacred Music – Berio’s composition places folk songs from different corners of the globe – Auvergne, Sicily, Armenia, Azerbaijan, the U.S. and more – in conversation with each other.