The Blessed Virgin's Expostulation is undoubtedly inspired by Monteverdi's famous Lamento D’Arianna. Published in Henry Purcell’s collection of sacred solo vocal works Harmonia Sacra, it expands on a small scene in Luke Chapter II, when the twelve-year-old Jesus is inadvertently left behind in Jerusalem by Joseph and Mary. The text presents a doubtful, passionate, and very human Mary who, in her terror at her Son's absence, even wonders whether her vision of the Archangel Gabriel was only a "waking dream." The episodes of dance meter punctuating the highly expressive recitative sections are elements of Italian monody, transformed by Purcell into a unique scena that suggests sacred opera.
© Pamela Dellal