To bring fresh new meaning to a play is a virtue, to do it to a musical score is sacrilege. But why? Why shouldn’t musicians be as creative as actors? As part of PLAY, the 2016 Arts & Humanities Festival at King’s College London, Helios Collective present a reimagined reading of Purcell’s Dido & Aeneas as Dido & ….
Classical musicians may be the only Western artists still trained to believe that their job is to reproduce the practices and intentions of the composer, as faithfully as possible. Helios ask why the performance of old texts shouldn’t be as innovative in music as in theatre.
Dramturg and Professor of Music at King’s College London, Daniel Leech-Wilkinson, comments, While actors are encouraged to innovate, musicians are expected to reproduce, and their performances are policed, from first lessons to final recital, to ensure conformity. There are complex historical and cultural reasons for this, but the upshot is that musicians are caught between the urge to be creative and the rigid performance norms of their business, creating stress and anxiety, and enforcing confusion in opera between what happens on stage and in the pit.
Dido & … encourages the performers to explore further possibilities, challenging the ideological restrictions imposed by performance norms, and starting fresh debate about the potential lying dormant in Western classical music. The idea that opera may be inventive on stage but not in the pit will be turned on its head.
These performances and associated workshops will show why it’s thrilling for musicians and audiences to experience musico-dramatic re-interpretations of well-known opera. Purcell’s score will take on imaginative new meanings simply by the way the notes are played and sung.
Choruses have been re-harmonised, songs re-ordered and orchestration and musical style adjusted. But fundamentally this is still Purcell’s opera – re-imagined for 2016!
Each evening, the development process involved in creating this performance will be discussed and explored in depth with events chaired by the production team with Professor Leech-Wilkinson, at which audience/performer discussions and contributions will be an essential ingredient.
The event is presented by Helios Collective, the university’s Faculty of Arts & Humanities and Department of Music, with support from the Cultural Institute at King’s College London.
Other upcoming Helios events include Formations Masterclass series from 13th – 25th November 2016 where three new operas will be developed and performed with the aid of leading industry professionals. The masterclasses feature the likes of Mark Wigglesworth, Janis Kelly, Judith Weir, David Pountney, James Clutton, Stephen Medcalf, Jonathan Moore and Iain Bell. This project is supported by Arts Council England, the International Opera Awards, the Hinrischen Foundation and The Fenton Trust.
Helios Collective present: Dido & …
Performance Dates Wednesday 12th – Friday 14th October –2016, 7.30pm
Friday 14th October 2016, 3p, (cover performance)
Running time 2 hours inc interval and workshop
Location Great Hall, King’s College London, Strand, London WC2R 2LS