Ensemble O Vos Omnes performs the first concert of the Lights of Early Music Festival, a before and after of Dominican friar Girolamo Savonarola in the Florence of the Medici. Savonarola preached vehemently from the monastery of St. Mark and harshly criticised the corruption of the rulers, the luxury of the rich and the sins of the Church.
Florence, prior to the arrival of the friar, was a city in which carnival musicians and risqué and shameless songs formed an essential part of the festivities in the Florentine palaces. With Savonarola’s strict doctrine and powerful influence, all these festive expressions were prohibited in Florence and the songs were replaced with lauds and motets with a religious content.
His power brought about the downfall of the Medici, as was portrayed in the The Bonfire of the Vanities, when dresses and cosmetics, mirrors and art, books, scores and instruments were burned. Eventually, the friar attacked Pope Alexander VI and, in his fight against the Borgia, came to his end: he was excommunicated, tortured and sentenced to death, becoming a victim of the same fire he had stoked.