Punica granatum is a dream.
The women singers of the Psallentes ensemble dream of a photo shoot in the English garden of the Alden Biesen Castle (a former commandery of the Teutonic Knights). It is a perfect location. Rolling fields, a flower garden, a gazebo, a summer house with an ice cellar, a charming little bridge and overgrown paths, the whole thing enclosed within a mysterious wall. And then there is the magnificent view over the south side of the moat.
Tomorrow, the time will have come. They are heading off to the garden with photographer Marcel and coach Philine. But tonight, the singers will first be visited by dreams. They see themselves as singing forest spirits, they drive out the darkness with fire, carry ice from the cellar, celebrate the clothing of a bride (but the bride walks off in anger?). They see flowers fluttering in the air, they dance and leap, and hear the sounds of organ music in the distance.
Is this a dream, or is it turning into a nightmare? They watch the goddess Minerva – wait: is she being transformed into the Virgin Mary? Where are all these strange props coming from for what was supposed to be a serious photo shoot? Is that a climate change demonstration over there? Have their voices suddenly turned into men’s voices? Are we hearing death knells?
Meanwhile, countless tunes are coursing through their minds. Early music. Monody, polyphony. Latin, French, Dutch. Even Middle English, in the traditional canon ‘Sumer is icumen in’. What kind of summer day will it be, tomorrow? Will these women emerge from the English garden unscathed?
Dreams are delusions, as the singers well know, but doesn’t it all seem so real?