Artist Details

Shipwrecked
Queen Elizabeth 1st with Armada Galleon (from Shipwrecked)

eX .

ART_CATEGORY: Ensembles

Historically informed, early music performances, juxtaposed with dramatic, contemporary staging and theatrics are the hallmarks of eX. Often controversial and always exciting, eX creates virtuosic, cutting edge performances of music from 11th to 18th century .

LAM
General Management
 

ART_BIOGRAPHY

 

Founded in 2006, eX is an Irish based Early Music performance ensemble that focuses on innovative and virtuosic performances of music from the 11th -18th century.

 

Devoted to bringing new dimensions to the presentation and enjoyment of early music, eX works with veteran and up and coming cutting edge directors, choreographers, filmmakers, visual artists and designers to conceive and create performances that move beyond the traditional concert experience.

SHOW FULL
BIOGRAPHY

 

eX was founded by the BMG, EMI recording artist Caitríona O'Leary. Working with the innovative, exceptionally creative director, Eric Fraad, a number of intellectually stimulating productions have been devised – productions that never compromise the performance of the original music but enhance the overall experience by adding a visual layer.

 

In 2006 eX presented its first full scale production, Ex Tenebris, an original performance piece Directed by Eric Fraad and Choreographed by Rex Levitates’ Liz Roche. Ex Tenebris juxtaposed contemporary dance with medieval and renaissance music in a mystical ceremony that explored the metaphors and mysteries of light and darkness central to the ancient celebrations of Christmas and the Winter solstice.

 

In April 2007 eX, performed Christ Lag In Todes Banden, a fully staged production celebrating the 300th anniversary of the premiere of Bach’s first cantata. Presented in two parts, Part One looked back one thousand years to the sources that inspired the creation of the cantata while Part Two featured an hallucinatory staging of the work considered Bach’s first sacred vocal composition. This work was performed at the Regensburg Early Music Festival in Germany in June 2011. The German early music magazine Toccata wrote of this production “… this production was a sensation.”

 

A baroque spectacle staging of Alexander Pope’s 1714 poem The Rape of the Lock, juxtaposed with some of Handel’s Italian duets was presented by ensemble eX in July 2008. Early music authority Christopher Hogwood was music advisor and the show was conceived and directed by Eric Fraad.

 

In 2009 eX performed two completely new projects; Shipwrecked, 16 century music from Spain and Ireland based around the time of the Spanish Armada and Motion of the Heart, based on music of the 18 century. In May 2010, eX created Possessed, an exploration of the ancient and universal phenomenon of possession through music and dance – ranging from the music of Hildegard von Bingen to Brazilian music of the 17 century. This project was created for the Galway Early Music Festival.

 

In October 2011 eX toured Shipwrecked to four venues in Ireland and in June 2012, toured Possessed to four Irish venues both with the financial assistance of the Irish Arts Council.

 

Reviews

Possessed (Heresy 0012)

 

"These performances are consistently good, whether they're bald fragments of medieval music or an extract from Vincent Youmans's soundtrack to the 1933 film Flying Down to Rio, notable for being the first screen pairing of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. What links the numbers is their potency. Some of these pieces might induce trance-like states, and others will have listeners' fingers and feet tapping involuntarily. Caitriona Leary's bold, clear vocals are a recurring pleasure, never grating even when she's singing at full throttle. She's nicely accompanied too, the ensemble dominated by guitars, viols and percussion.

 

There are brief numbers from Dufay and Hildegard von Bingen. The anonymous melody used to accompany the 14th century La Ditie de Jehanne d'Arc is given extra colour by a battery of rattling percussion, and a stark setting of a poem by Santa Teresa de Ávila features a ravishing guitar backing. But you suspect that this lot really want to have fun, and the faster numbers are compelling. O Deusa Dos Orixas is a beguiling samba, and O'Leary's own Celtic-tinged Spellsong sustains its 7/8 rhythms brilliantly. There's a strutting Fandango by Santiago de Murcia. Three tarantellas sparkle, before the Youmans closes proceedings with a smile. Can we have an accompanying DVD?"

Graham Rickson, The Arts Desk, Jan 2014


"The Irish-American record producer Eric Fraad is courageous. On this CD he makes the Dublin-based early-music ensemble, eX, handle the musical tools of exorcists from Europe and South America and from the Middle Ages to the Baroque period. These songs and dances are intended to protect one against various types of possession - but that of course is a lie: For the singer Caitriona O'Leary drives the listener to lose control! Adrenalin pumping rhythms alternate with moments of pure meditation before the sweet song of the Siren once again turns our heads. A CD with a high addiction factor –so no one should say, they have not been warned!"

Winifried Dulisch, Stereoplay Magazine, Jan 2014

 

"eX investigates the subject of possession in music with much wit and slyness, the booklet is nicely illustrated and Sigmund Freud of course must not be missing here. The combination of musical styles is a success you can hear Latin American sounds as well as the Tarantella, Athanasius Kircher, Santiago de Murcia, Guillaume Dufay, Hildegard of Bingen and many others. Where does possession end and where in the eyes of Western Christian mysticism does the experience of God begin?: " Fides piorum credit . Non discutit "says Bernard of Clairvaux , the pious crusade preacher ( The pious do not discuss faith, they believe). Both the idea for this recording and its execution are captivating. It was high time to trace this strange chapter of the human race in music!"

>Robert Stobl, Toccata Alte Musik Aktuelle, Jan 2014


"Possessed" is the name of the album – listen to this. And look at the fascinating charismatic singer Caitriona O'Leary with her angelic and ethereal voice. Founded in 2006, the passionate Irish ensemble eX is obsessed with the idea of interpreting the part-staged repertoire of the 11th to 18 Century as a work of art for all the senses. "Possession" is the topic this time. In all its bizarre, delusional forms...the “witch” who was hanged in 1688 in Boston, to the initiation rites of the Afro-Brazilian Candomble and the southern Italian Tarantism, the folklore of the Tarantula bite that triggered wild mania for dancing Dances, songs and improvisations – uniquely assembled and performed by O'Leary and colleagues here – evoke gods and spirits. And go into a trance. Excitingly different!

CRESCENDO, Oct 13

 

 

 

Possessed at the Hugh Lane Gallery, Dublin, June 2012


Possessed was a great pleasure in many ways, The music was of the highest international standard with some beautiful singing  and most infectious instrumental playing. The incorporation of drama and dance was most unusual but never too contrived and the overall staging and presentation a delight. This show deserves to be performed widely – it got a standing ovation from a Dublin audience. I greatly look forward to eX’s next imaginative production. Early music of this sort has such a strong immediate appeal and eX is the only Irish based group to present it – and to such a very high standard.

Tim Thurston, Presenter of Gloria on RTÉ lyric fm

 

 

In Possessed eX combined music, dance and theatre in a hugely inventive and intelligent way - yet never once was entertainment pushed onto a back seat. Congrats again on a great show and do keep me informed on future shows.

Sean Rocks, Presenter of Arena on RTÉ Radio 1

 

 

Ensemble eX’s Possessed was a tour de force  - instrumental and vocal brilliance combined with dance and theatre to extra-ordinary effect.

The Works on RTÉ TV

 

 

Shipwrecked at the Pavilion, Dun Laoire 2011

 

 

Steve Player dancing

It made for excellent entertainment with some very fine musical sequences … It could delight many future audiences…

Opera (magazine) Feb 2012

 

 

 

Shipwrecked at Belfast Festival 2011

 

 

It (Shipwrecked) effortlessly sweeps you up, but as with any dream, no description can do it full justice. eX have created a unique experience. So much so that we were tempted, like Francisco's chieftain host, to detain them to play for us forever and ever...

 

Culture Northern Ireland October 2011

SHOW ALL
REVIEWS

 

Christ lag in Todesbanden at Regensburg Early Music Festival June 2011

Tango

In this context, where even during the performance I was deeply moved and spurred to reflect on my own mortality, this production was a sensation.  The  fervid discussions were then simply confirmation of this, a brilliant transformation in Sound and Image.

Tocatta June 2011

 

 

 

Motion of the Heart

 

…this project was fashioned after a seventeenth-century masque, which originally glorified a monarch or some other highVirgin Mary with seven swords in heart worthy. The director [Eric Fraad] explained that this form of entertainment fell into obscurity after Charles I lost his head, adding: “we’re bringing it back”.  Some might argue that the masque is no more because its better known siblings (the opera, oratorio and ballet) have stood the test of time – but it was interesting and exciting nonetheless, to experience such a rarefied entertainment with top-notch singers and actors and production values (including opulent period costumes).

John White, Irish Theatre Magazine 11.12.2009


They’ve turned this relic of royal image-making into a four-sided study of the human heart that glorifies its romantic, anatomical, sacred and aesthetic aspects.

As in the masques of old, there’s a free juxtaposition of song, dance, spoken word and instrumental music. It’s pit together with a magpie’s eye for variety by eX’s joint artistic director, Eric Fraad, in collaboration with author Louisa Young.

There are sumptuous period costumes by Alessio Rosati, and a consort of viols is under the direction of continuo sage Erin Headley.

Andrew Johnstone, Irish Times 09.12.2009

 

Shipwrecked


...the music could hardly have been more passionately played and the singers delighted—especially Caitriona O’Leary’s early music soprano and genre-defying vocalist/guitarist Clara Sanabras—the costumes of Alessio Rosati nearly stole the show. Especially the historical replicas of the costumes of Queen Elizabeth and Philip II were masterpieces.

Jens F. Laurson, Playbill Arts 8 October 2009

 

Interspersed throughout the engaging story was music from the 16th century, played by a line up of  superb musicians from Germany, America, Spain and Italy and Ireland. The costumes, by Italian period designer  Alessio Rosati were highly effective in the setting of the Great Hall of Kilmainham, and brought us back four centuries. It was very satisfying to see the enthusiastic audience, who gave a prolonged standing ovation at the end of the spectacle.

Michael Collins, Catholic Standard, October 2009

 

Songs from a Gothic Room

I had the privilege of attending the performance of Ars Subtilior music given by eX in the National Gallery, Dublin, on the 23rd of October [2008] last.

Having always described this genre of music as 'complex to the point of bristling' I found myself contradicted by a performance that glided over the counterpoint's famous difficulty and revealed a capacity for direct communication that forces me to rewrite my lecture notes. Where I expected pungency I found beauty; out of the strong came forth sweetness. This is a very persuasive ensemble, with a particularly compelling voice in Caitríona O'Leary.

~Andrew Robinson
 

Discography

Possessed by eX Ensemble

Heresy Records

2013

Internationally acclaimed early music ensemble eX presents Possessed, a musical journey through the mysterious world of possession. Featuring medieval, renaissance, baroque and traditional music, Possessed explores Christian ecstatic trance as experienced by Hildegaard von Bingen, Teresa of Avila and Joan of Arc, demonic possession of the Salem witches, initiation rites of the Afro-Brazilian Condomblé and a musical exorcism performed to the wild rhythms of the Tarantella.

 

"Both the idea for this recording and its execution are captivating. It was high time to trace this strange chapter of the human race in music!"

Robert Stobl, Toccata Alte Musik Aktuell

"Adrenalin pumping rhythms alternate with moments of pure meditation before the sweet song of the Siren once again turns our heads. A CD with a high addiction factor –so no one should say, they have not been warned!"

Winifried Dulisch, Stereoplay Magazine

"Not for the pure of heart. eX's Possessed is a tour de force of instrumental and vocal brilliance..."

Laurence Vittes, Huffington Post

"The music was of the highest international standard with beautiful singing and most infectious instrumental playing...early music of this sort has such a strong immediate appeal and eX is the only Irish-based group to present it - and to such a very high standard."

Tim Thurston, Lyric fm

"The singing and instrumental playing are very fine and the whole of Possessed has a certain infectiously endearing quality"

infodad.com

"Excitingly different!"

Crescendo


 

 

Shipwrecked by eX Ensemble

Heresy Records

2012

"Shipwrecked is one of those rare albums that boldly defy easy classification. Originally conceived by noted opera and theatre director Eric Fraad as a stage production, Shipwrecked chronicles the 16th century Spanish sea captain Francisco de Cuellar's attempts to return to Spain after being shipwrecked on the coast of Ireland...[featuring] Irish tradition tunes, English and Spanish court dances as well as sacred music by Cristobal de Morales and Tomas Luis de Victoria.

 

Plucked and bowed instruments dominate many of the instrumental works and the players smoke in these lively Spanish, English and Irish dances. The intersecting worlds of the Spanish, English and irish music is fascinating particularly when tunes like "The Hay" and the spicy "Yo me soy la Morenica" blend. O'Leary has also colourfully arranged music from the Fitzwilliam Virginal Book and Irish dance collections, The performances all have an improvisatory flavor. The interpolation of sacred works by morales and Victoria are dramatic masterstrokes and the singing of O'Leary, Clara Samabras and Juan Sancho has a spare dreamy quality. Shipwrecked has something to offer fans of many genres, whether it's early or traditional music." Craig Zeichner, April 2012


"Shipwrecked, an album featuring the Irish early music ensemble eX, defies easy definition. on a purely musical level it can be enjoyed as a collection of late Renaissance vocal and instrumental music from a seemingly unrelated assortment of traditions, including Spanish, English, Irish and Gaelic, performed with irresistible exuberance and vibrancy. The album is actually the original cast recording of what director Eric Fraad describes as a 'strange postmodernist event' that 'brings the Renaissance together with a really contemporary sensibility of theatre', first presented at the Dublin Festival in 2011..The musical selections presented here are fabulously satisfying in themselves. The score was put together with scrupulous attention to historical detail by musicologist and singer Caitriona O'Leary, teh founder of eX, and is wonderfully and unpredictably varied. o'Leary, whose soprano is supple and radiant, is the most prominent soloist, but the entire ensemble performs with focussed musicality and can encompass precision and uninhibited earthiness; every track vibrates with energy and life. The sound is clean, intimate and nicely ambient. Highly recommended for any fan of early music." - Steven Eddins, Rovi, April 2012


 

Upcoming Events

POSSESSED

 

On tour June 2012 (see below for dates and venues)

 

Voodoo, Exorcism, Witchcraft, Satanism, Altered States and Multiple Personalities; possession is one of contemporary culture’s most enduring & compelling themes.

Caitriona and Steve

Originally commissioned by and performed at Galway Early Music Festival in 2010, celebrated Dublin-based early music ensemble, eX presents, Possessed, a staged & costumed concert that explores the ancient universal phenomenon of possession through the prism of music and theatre.

Featuring an international ensemble of renowned early music specialists, Possessed takes audiences on a journey to a realm where Gods, man and the darker powers interact. From Medieval Europe where the mystics Hildegard von Bingen, Theresa de Avila and Joan of Arc have ecstatic visions of Christ to 17th century Massachusetts and the infamous witch trials, from Bahia and an initiation ceremony into the voodoo-like cult of Candomblé, to ancient Salento where a maiden bitten by the wolf spider is exorcised from her trance with the wild rhythms of the tarantella.

 

Join eX for an entrancing evening of music, dance and spectacle…

 

PRODUCTION DETAILS

Stage Director: Eric Fraad

Music Director: Caitríona O’Leary

Costume Design: Emma Downey

Lighting Design: Kevin Smith

Associate Costume Design: Grainne Lynch

CAST

Caitríona O’Leary – Voice

Clara Sanabras – Voice and Guitar

Paulina van Laarhoven – Viols and Guitar

Stephen Player – Guitars

Harvey Brough – Guitar and Arrangements

Andrea Piccioni - Percussion

 

TICKET DETAILS

 

Thursday 7th June at 8:00pm

Riverbank Arts Centre, Main Street, Newbridge, Co. Kildare

Tickets € 15.00 Concession € 12.00

Tickets available in advance online

At: www.riverbank.ie

Booking by phone at 045 448 327

Tickets also available at the door

 

Friday 8th June at 8:00pm

Wexford Arts Centre, Cornmarket, Wexford

Tickets € 15.00 Concession € 12.00

Tickets available in advance online

At: www.wexfordartscentre.ie

Booking by phone at 053 91 23764

Tickets also available at the door

 

Saturday 9th June at 8:00pm

St. Mary’s Cathedral Tuam, in association with Church Classics

Tickets € 15.00 Concession € 12.00

Tickets available in advance online

At: www.classicallinks.ie

Tickets also available from Quinns, Bishop Street Tuam

and at the door

 

Sunday 10th June at Noon

Hugh Lane Gallery, Parnell Square, Dublin 1

As part of the Sundays @ Noon Concert Series

Admission Free

The Sundays @ Noon Concert Series is funded by Dublin City Council

and grant aided by The Arts Council/ An Chomhairle Ealaíon.

 

CHRIST LAG IN TODESBANDEN

 

a Musical and Theatrical Celebration of Bach’s First Cantata


In June 2011 eX will bring its production of Christ lag in Todesbanden to the Tage Alter Musik in Regensburg, Germany.

 

eX’s production directed by Eric Fraad is performed in two parts. Part One begins on a stage set with a simple wooden cross and an angel at the back holding a lit candelabra. A singer enters and slowly crosses the stage with a silver bowl of apples which she places at the foot of the cross.

 

She turns, faces the audience and sings Victimae Paschali Laudes. The journey has begun. As each singer and instrumentalist enter another layer is added. Over the next twenty-five minutes the audience will experience a simple and mysterious ceremony where the chants, chorales and motets that were to influence the creation of Bach’s Christ Lag are expertly and passionately performed. Part One ends with Bach’s organ fantasia (BWV 695) based on Christ Lag in Todesbanden.

As the curtain rises on Part Two the audience is stunned. The simplicity of Part One gives way to the elaborate spectacle they see before them. Baroque in sound and spirit the setting is an exclusive supper club. The hallucinatory staging derives its narrative and trajectory from Luther’s poetry and Bach’s musical setting and architecture. Replete with epic battles, fire and brimstone sermons, heartwrenching laments and three star cannibalistic feasts which resolve into a moral and spiritual modus vivendi, the production theatricalizes the lyrics which invoke notions of medieval church drama and imagery reminicent of Albrecht Duerer and Hieronymous Bosch.

Timeless, immediate, sublime and provocative, Christ Lag In Todesbanden celebrates Bach’s profound first steps on his path to create the greatest body of sacred vocal music the world has ever known.

MOTION OF THE HEART AN OCCULT 17TH CENTURY MASQUE

Following its critically acclaimed production Shipwrecked, in September 2009 innovative Irish early music ensemble, eX presents Motion of the Heart an occult masque that explores the romantic, spiritual, anatomical and aesthetic qualities and characteristics of the human heart. The production is being made possible by generous grants from the Arts Council, the Goethe Institut and is presented in association with the National Gallery of Ireland.

 

Motion of the Heart will be performed on Monday 30th November at 8:00 PM at St. Peter’s Church of Ireland in Drogheda and again on Sunday 6th December at 3:00 PM in the Shaw Room at the National Gallery of Ireland in Dublin. eX’s co-artistic director, Eric Fraad and the English novelist and cultural historian Louisa Young are creating the script and dramaturgy for the production. The renowned early music specialist Erin Headley will serve as guest music director and lead an international consort consisting of some of the world’s finest instrumentalists and early music singers. The production will be directed by Eric Fraad with costumes and sets by Alessio Rosati, the Italian period design expert who designed eX’s productions of Shipwrecked (2009) and The Rape of the Lock (2008).


Mr. Fraad and Ms. Young have employed the form and structure of the Carolingian masque, the 17th century interactive musical theatrical court entertainment, where both aristocrats and professional artists performed along side each other. Allegorical, metaphorical and visually rich the 17th century masque integrated a diversity of theatrical genres (music, opera, dance, drama and design) for the purpose of glorifying the virtues and qualities of a monarch or high-ranking aristocrat.
Motion of the Heart is engendered as an occult esoteric masque that positions the heart as monarch and glorifies its virtues. The masque employs a four act structure each of which corresponds to one of the hearts four symbolic chambers, the romantic/erotic heart, the religious/spiritual heart, the physiological/rational heart and the heart as represented in art.
The text for each of the masque’s four acts are performed by characters who represent the theme for each section, Oscar Wilde for art, the Virgin Mary for religion, William Harvey for science and Frida Kahlo for art.


The music for Motion of the Heart is 17th century instrumental and vocal music form Italy, England, France and the New World and is performed by a consort of viols, lute, theorbo and organ. Singers perform both choral, ensemble and solo works of the period including works by William and Henry Lawes, Alfonso Ferrabosco II, John Coperario and Claudio Monteverdi.
The name Motion of the Heart is taken from the English translation of the name of William Harvey’s groundbreaking treatise De Motu Cordis et Sanguinis in Animalibus (1628) which for the first time described how the heart circulates the blood around the body.


BIOGRAPHIES OF THE ARTISTIC TEAM

Erin Headley: Music Director
Erin Headley is an internationally acclaimed music director, viola da gamba player and the world's leading exponent of that rare and hauntingly beautiful bowed instrument, the lirone.
In 1987 Erin Headley and Stephen Stubbs founded the ensemble Tragicomedia to perform continuo-based music of the 17th century. Their recordings with Teldec, EMI, Hyperion and Harmonia Mundi USA have won numerous prizes, including a Gramophone award in 1991. Ms. Headley works with many of Europe's finest ensembles, most often with Les Arts Florissants, directed by William Christie, with whom she has played for the past twenty-eight years.
She has performed at all major early music festivals, opera houses and has taught throughout Europe, North America, Australia and New Zealand including UNC at Chapel Hill, Indiana University, Rutgers, the University of California at Berkeley, The Hilliard Summer School at Trinity Hall, Cambridge, Mannes College of Music, the Hochschule für Kunst, Bremen, etc. Since 2007 she has been a faculty member and Arts and Humanities Research Council Fellow in the Creative and Performing Arts at the University of Southampton.

As the world’s leading performer and proponent of the Lirone she has recorded much of its repertoire for Harmonia Mundi France, Erato, Virgin, Hyperion, ECM, CPO, Teldec and other labels; she is the author of the 'Lirone' articles in The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians. Her new ensemble Atalante recently made its debut performance to rave reviews at London’s Southbank.

Louisa Young: Writer
Louisa Young first came to prominence as author of A Great Task of Happiness (1995), her life of the sculptor Kathleen Scott. She followed that with her Egyptian trilogy of novels: Baby Love, Desiring Cairo and Tree of Pearls. She is author of The Book of the Heart (2001) her critically acclaimed cultural history which the Independent called “a ravishing, celebratory and funny history of the human heart…superb” and the Irish Times cited as “A fascinating, engaging study of the that vital organ and its depiction in religion, art and literature”. She writes regularly for various newspapers and lives in London with her daughter.

Eric Fraad: Writer / Director

Eric Fraad is co-artistic director of eX (along with singer Caitríona O’Leary). A native of New York City he has directed opera, drama and his own performance pieces at theatres and festivals throughout Europe and America. Most recently he directed Reliquie Romanae a fully staged production with Erin Headley’s new group Atalante at London’s Southbank. In September he directed and co-wrote (with Caitríona O'Leary and Jocelyn Clark) the critically acclaimed show Shipwrecked for eX which was performed at in the Great Hall of the Irish Museum of Modern Art in Dublin.

He is the former Director of The Ark in Dublin, Europe’s first cultural centre for children and families, and founder and artistic director of Millennial Arts Productions and Opera at the Academy in New York. He recently founded Heresy Records a new label devoted to innovative performances of early, traditional and world music.

Alessio Rosati - Designer

Born in Siena Italy, Alessio Rosati is a costume and scenic designer specializing in magnificent historically accurate representations. He is also a stage director, artistic director (Festival Contemporaneamente Barocco, Siena) and a professor of period design at the University of Florence. He frequently works with director Eric Fraad for whom he has created designs for The Rape of the Lock, Shipwrecked and Reliquie Romanae.



DETAILS FOR CONCERT CALENDAR LISTING

Monday 30th November at 8:00 PM
St. Peter’s Church of Ireland, Peter’s Street, Drogheda
Tickets €10


Sunday 6th December at 3:00 PM
The Shaw Room, National Gallery of Ireland
Merrion Square West, Dublin 2
Tickets €22.50 Concession €17.50
Tickets available in advance online at:  www. Tickets. ie
Tickets also available at the door



MOTION OF THE HEART
Written by Eric Fraad and Louisa Young
Music Direction: Erin Headley
Stage Direction: Eric Fraad
Set and Costume Design: Alessio Rosati
Jessica Kennedy, Choreography
Lighting Design: Cormac Veale

Cast
Caitríona O’Leary, Soprano
David Morris, Viola da Gamba
Paulina Van Laarhoeven, Viola da Gamba
Anna Lisa Pappano, Viola da Gamba
Erin Headley, Viola da Gamba and Lirone
Jörg Jacobi, Organ and Harpsichord
Other Artists TBA

Jessica Kennedy, Dancer
Aine Stapleton, Dancer

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Friday 27th November 2009 at 6:30 PM
Trinity College Department of Music in the Boydell Room
Master Class and Demonstration on the Lirone: Erin Headley and Members of the Consort
Admission Free to the Public

THE RAPE OF THE LOCK


Poem by Alexander Pope     Music by Georg Frideric Handel

Alexander Pope’s mock-epic The Rape Of The Lock is the finest example of its genre and perhaps the greatest poem of its era. The poem was inspired by a true event which occurred between three prominent Roman Catholic families who were amongst Pope’s circle of friends, the Fermors, Petres, and Carylls. As the story goes some time before 21 March 1712, when Pope sold his poem to Lintott, Robert, Lord Petre had cut off a lock of Arabella Fermor's hair, and John Caryll had suggested to Pope that he should write a poem to heal the estrangement that followed between the two families:


The stealing of Miss Belle Fermor's hair, was taken too seriously, and caused an estrangement between the two families, though they had lived so long in great friendship before. A common acquaintance and well-wisher to both, desired me to write a poem to make a jest of it, and laugh them together again. It was with this view that I wrote The Rape of the Lock.

 

 

 

eX’s production, employs a post-modern formal conceit to explore the musical, literary, dramatic and visual style of 18th century England. Set at Chiswick House in Lord Burlington’s sitting room - amongst whose coterie both Pope and Handel were reigning luminaries – the production takes place at the imaginary occasion of the poem’s first reading starring both its real-life protagonists and members of Burlington’s circle. In between each of the poem’s five cantos singers in baroque dress created by the Italian period costume expert and designer, Alessio Rosati, perform Handel’s Arcadian Duets as a divertissement, acting out the epic’s faux-tragic subtext. The actors are drawn into the unsettling and masochistic romantic machinations of the singers until the boundaries between the performance and the performance within the performance become turned upon themselves.


Unsurpassed for their expression and invention, several of Handel’s early Italian duets were to be recycled years later in his masterwork for Dublin, Messiah.



THE RAPE OF THE LOCK*

Handel’s Italian Duets Used As Entracts In The Rape Of The Lock
The Duets of 1710 & 1711 and also No, di voi non vo’ fidarmi from 1741 all influenced future Handelian masterpieces.

No, di voi non vo’ fidarmi (HWV189)           
No, di voi non vo’ fidarmi (For unto us a Child is Born ~ Messiah)
Altra volta incatenarmi
So per prova I vostri inganni (All we like Sheep ~ Messiah)

Quel fior che all’alba ride (HWV192)
Quel fior che all’alba ride (His Yoke is Easy, His Burthen is Light ~ Messiah)
È un fior la vita ancora
L’occaso ha nell’aurora (And he shall Purify ~ Messiah)

Tanti Strali al sen mi scocchi (HWV 197)
Tanti strali al sen mi scocchi (Almira, Orlando, Acis and Galatea, Radimisto)
Ma se l’alma sempre geme
Dunque annoda pur, ben mio (Take him all ~ Solomon)

Se tu non lasci amore (HWV 193)
Se tu non lasci amore (Oh Death where is thy Sting ~ Messiah)
Quando non ho piu core (Esther, Air ~ Water Music)

Sono liete, fortunate (HWV 194)
Sono liete, fortunate
Crudeltà nè lontananza
Non avran mai la possanza (Overture ~ Judas Maccabeus)



The Rape of the Lock

Directed by Eric Fraad

Music Direction by Caitríona O’Leary

Performance by eX

The Dramatis Personae includes five actors, one dancer, two singers, a harpsichordist and a cellist.


* The text, and other background material of The Rape of the Lock can be found at  
http://www-unix.oit.umass.edu/~sconstan/index.html

 

CHRIST LAG IN TODESBANDEN
A Musical and Theatrical Celebration of Bach’s First Cantata

Bach’s first cantata Christ Lag in Todesbanden (BWV 4) (Christ Lay in the Bonds of Death) is fascinating both for its remarkable artistic qualities and its provenance. eX, Ireland’s innovative Early Music performance ensemble, presents Christ Lag In Todesbanden, a fully staged spectacle which takes audiences on a 1,000 year journey in fifty minutes beginning with the work’s medieval origins and culminating in a riveting performance of the canata itself.

The story of Christ Lag begins circa 1040 when Wipo of Burgundy, chaplain and biographer to the Holy Roman Emperor Konrad II composed the Latin Easter sequence, Victimae Paschali Laudes. Victimae was to influence the composition of several important Gregorian chants and German chorales, most prominently, Christ is Erstanden. In 1524 Martin Luther adapted the cantus firmus of Victimae and Christ ist Erstanden to create  his chorale, Christ Lag in Todesbanden. The immense popularity of Christ Lag, due to its sublime melody and intensly evocative lyrics, led to the chorale being used as the basis for works by nearly every major German composer of the 16th and 17th centuries. Thus when the twenty-two year old Johann Sebastian Bach auditioned for the chief musical position in the city of Mülhausen presenting the cantata he composed for the occasion, Christ Lag in Todesbanden, his choice was not an arbitrary one.  Both Bach and his judges would have been well aware that the young turk was placing himself for comparison and inclusion within the pantheon of great German baroque composers.

eX’s production directed by Eric Fraad is performed in two parts. Part One begins on a stage set with a simple wooden cross and an angel at the back holding a lit candelabra. A singer enters and slowly crosses the stage with a silver bowl of apples which she places at the foot of the cross. She turns, faces the audience and sings Victimae Paschali Laudes. The journey has begun. As each singer and instrumentalist enter another layer is added. Over the next twenty-five minutes the audience will experience a simple and mysterious ceremony where the chants, chorales and motets that were to influence the creation of Bach’s Christ Lag are expertly and passionately performed. Part One ends with Bach’s organ fantasia (BWV 695) based on Christ Lag in Todesbanden.

As the curtain rises on Part Two the audience is stunned. The simplicity of Part One gives way to the elaborate spectacle they see before them. Baroque in sound and spirit the setting is an exclusive supper club decorated in the style of the Japanese painter/designer Takashi Murakami, today’s heir to Andy Warhol. The hallucinatory staging derives its narrative and trajectory from Luther’s poetry and Bach’s musical setting and architecture. Replete with epic battles, fire and brimstone sermons, heartwrenching laments and three star cannibalistic feasts which resolve into a moral and spiritual modus vivendi, the production theatricalizes the lyrics which invoke notions of medieval church drama and imagery reminicent of Albrecht Duerer and Hieronymous Bosch.

Timeless, immediate, sublime and provocative, Christ Lag In Todesbanden celebrates Bach’s profound first steps on his path to create the greatest body of sacred vocal music the world has ever known.