The Berkeley Festival and Exhibition, held in alternate years, typically features at least one program that's as much theater as music. In past years, the early music extravaganza had the horse ballet "Le carousel du roi" and the "Carnaval Baroque". This year, Le Poème Harmonique, which put on the Carnaval Baroque, returned with the premiere of "Monteverdi & Manelli: Venezia delle strade ai Pallazi," a semistaged performance of musical monologues (and duets, and trios) from 17th-century Venice. Presented by Cal Performances, this lively and entertaining program, heard on Thursday at the Zellerbach Playhouse, also included works by Marini, Ferrari, and the ubiquitous Anonymous. Le Poème Harmonique deployed 10 musicians for this intimate program: soprano Claire Lefilliâtre, tenors Serge Goubioud and Jan Van Elsacker, and bass Arnaud Marzorati; Olivia Centurioni on violin, Lucas Guimaraes on lirone and treble viol, Françoise Enock on violone, Jean-Luc Tamby on colascione (a plucked, fretted instrument) and Baroque guitar, Joël Grare on percussion, and the ensemble's director, Vincent Dumestre, on theorbo and Baroque guitar. Le Poème Harmonique observes both musical and theatrical practices of the 17th century, hence each piece on this program incorporated movements and gestures from the theater of that century, as well as music ornaments. In effect, we were seeing music as drama. Further, the group performed on a stage initially lit only by candles and the indirect glow of lights on the instrumentalists' music stands. The singers emerged from the gloom at the back of the stage to sing at center stage, flanked by a diagonal row of instrumentalists to each side. This arrangement gave the audience some sense of what musical and theatrical performances must have been like before electric lights, and allowed for a fine theatrical coup: at the start of the fourth number, Manelli's bergamasca titled La Barchetta passaggiera, a row of invisible candles stretching across the stage, mostly hidden from the audience's sight in what looked like an elongated, low prompter's box, burst into flame and added considerably to the available light. The flickering light resembled flames reflected on water, a most appropriate image for the bergamasca, an entertaining and extremely funny account of a wild night on a boat. The four singers impersonated passengers from Lombardy, Tuscany, Germany, Naples, France, and Spain, who cook their national dishes for each other and drink a great deal of wine, while the ship's cat merrily runs off with whatever food it can steal.