Bach Society’s ‘Festino’ to burst with flavors

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Rossana Iodici Cacal’s Italian carnevale goodies will be sold during the Denton Bach Society’s event on Saturday. Food items cost $5 for three, $8 for five or $12 for eight. The menu includes ravioli dolci con marmellata di ceci — sweet ravioli filled with a chickpea and vanilla jam, baked and dusted with powdered sugar. Wine will also be sold.

The Denton Bach Society often makes you think of serious music, early music by Bach and his contemporaries. Soloists with the Bach choir perform challenging arias, and the choir joins in with equally challenging choruses.

But fun is hardly foreign to the society. The group has staged many an Oktoberfest-themed party, and even presented Bach’s “Coffee Cantata” at a downtown coffeehouse.

And on Saturday at St. Barnabas Episcopal Church, the Denton Bach Society will chalk another hatch in the fun column with Il Festino nella sera del giovedi grasso avanti cena (“Fete for the Evening of Fat Thursday Before Supper”), a feast of delectable pre-Lenten Italian fare and a performance from Festino.

“This is the sort of thing that used to be done in Italy — it might still be done — right before Lent,” said Henry Gibbons, the director of the choir. “In its day, this sort of thing would have been done in a large hall, in the home of a wealthy person. But it was of a broader, more popular nature. It wasn’t something for the aristocracy.”

The music, by Adriano Bancheri, explores the tender, bawdy, amorous and absurd through 21 madrigals.

“Some of the songs are even scatological,” Gibbons said.

Poop jokes? Performed by devotees of baroque music? Absolutely, said choir member and soloist Heidi Klein. Bach (and many of his contemporaries) were show people, in a sense, and there is a time and place for lowbrow humor.

“There are a few pieces — some ‘fa-las,’ as we call them, and ‘din-dins’ — where the singers make the sounds of musical instruments,” Klein said.

In addition to Banchieri’s music, Saturday’s event will feature the homemade delights of Italian-born Denton resident Rossana Iodici Cacal. Cacal is making traditional carnevale foods from several regions of Italy.

“We celebrate our holidays in food,” Cacal said. “Every region has their own dishes and families cook for days.”

A glimpse of the menu promises belt-straining fare. Patrons can sample tastings of foods — all of them rich, whether savory or sweet — and sip wine before Festino begins. Tasting plate prices start at $5 for three items.

Gibbons said the performance is costumed and “minimally staged.”

Saturday’s performance will start at 7 p.m. at St. Barnabas, 1200 N. Elm St. Tickets cost $15 for adults, $12 for seniors and students. Tickets will be sold at the door.

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