Visitors to the Duomo in 15th-century Florence must have found the experience mind-boggling.
Not only were they surrounded by unearthly sculpture and painting, but the soaring 171-foot interior of the dome reverberated with the sounds of choirs, musicians and a pipe organ powered by young men furiously stomping on multiple bellows.
Some of that boggle has come to Atlanta in the High Museum’s new show, “’Make a Joyful Noise’: Renaissance Art and Music at Florence Cathedral.”
As lively as the title suggests, the show is focused on the exquisite carvings of Renaissance master Luca della Robbia, whose bas-relief marble panels are crowded with young people blowing horns, playing tambourines, dancing and singing and kicking up their heels.
The panels once adorned the choir lofts in the Florence cathedral, and they give the impression that a service in the Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore was a riotous good time.
They’ve never traveled to the United States before, and only one panel has ever left Italy. Therefore, metro Atlantans will have a rare glimpse of the earliest work of della Robbia, sculpture that High director Michael E. Shapiro calls “an undisputed masterpiece.”
But a silent display of sculpture does not a riot make. To complete the picture, the High will bring in musicians to perform early choral and instrumental music in a connecting gallery, treating museum visitors to the sounds of the era.
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“’Make A Joyful Noise’: Renaissance Art and Music at Florence Cathedral”
Opening Oct. 25. Through Jan. 11. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesdays-Saturdays (until 9 p.m. Fridays), noon-5 p.m. Sundays. High Museum of Art. Tickets: $19.50; $16.50 ages 65 and up and students (ID required); $12 ages 6-17. 1280 Peachtree St. N.E., Atlanta. 404-733-4444, www.high.org.