Commedia - Inferno

for choir and orchestra
Text by Dante Alighieri, English Translation: Robert M. Durling

Program Note

Text by Dante Alighieri, English Translation: Robert M. Durling

The inspiration for the work Inferno began early in 2007 when writing a solo vocal piece for the Cazenovia Counterpoint summer music series in Upstate New York. Having drawn the text for the piece from The Divine Comedy, I was compelled to pick up the book I began to read almost 2 decades ago and read it completely since much of the imagery and allegory I found was now very powerful and also extraordinarily relevant to current world events.

Due to its epic nature, I decided early on that I wanted to set all three cantiche, (s. cantica – narrative poem), focusing initially on the INFERNO, and to follow to some extent Dante’s own development of the entire Commedia.

Choosing the right text was a difficult matter, in trying to portray the entirety of the contents of the cantica yet being concise in conveying it. Eventually I chose to use the text derived from the third canto that is the inscription upon the outer gates of hell.

Because of Christian mythology, the use of terza rima as a literary device (aba bcb cdc…), and Dante’s multifaceted use of the numbers three and nine, these numbers play an important role in the architectural development of my own work. INFERNO loosely follows the narrative trajectory of the cantica, but is more of one artist’s reaction to the powerful imagery and its beautiful, if craggy, subject matter.