The following projects are in various stages of research and development. Potential collaborators and promoters should contact the company for further details.
Based on J.S. Bachs Wedding Cantata "O holder Tag", Cantata 210
Bach's Cantata no.210 was written to be performed at a wedding. A solo soprano addresses the wedding couple in a sequence of five recitatives and arias in which she both celebrates and questions the role of music at such an occasion: music lifts the spirits, but in rousing earthly passions it leads away from the inner solemnity of the couple's sacred vows; music consoles, but its consolation is an inappropriate reminder of death. So music must lead us back to the joy of the occasion, effacing itself to serve its patron's pleasure. The music itself alternates fast and slow, baroque formality with baroque eroticism.
The text establishes a complex dramatic interplay between the singer and the circumstances in which she finds herself, exploring the relationship of art and life and asking us to consider whether art redeems the banality of everyday life or reflects its unnoticed beauty.
The aim of the presentation will be to reconstruct a dramatic context for the cantata, placing it amidst the preparations and celebrations for a very ordinary modern-day wedding party. A cast of non-actors would recreate the typical circumstances and incidents of such an occasion, playing the roles of bride and groom, families, children, guests, etc. Beyond the commonplace banality of such occasions we would be reminded by the beauty of Bach's music of the touching expression of faith and hope, however fragile, that is always celebrated in such events.
The evening will end with the whole party dancing a stately baroque sarabande to Smokey Robinson's Soul epithalameum "Wedding Song".
Tolstoys story The Kreutzer Sonata tells of a jealous husband who murders his wife because he suspects that she is having an affair with a violinist. The husbands sexual jealousy is aroused during a performance by his wife and the violinist of Beethovens so-called "Kreutzer" violin sonata.
Tolstoys story conveys its authors own obsessive mistrust of the power of music to seduce, enchant, intoxicate and infect its listeners.
Tolstoy himself proposed that the story should serve as the pretext for a performance event in which a reading of the story would be accompanied by a performance of the Beethoven sonata against the backdrop of a painting by Repin.
The event never took place, but our reading will offer a contemporary version of Tolstoys performance proposal.
Toy Story Three
A musical drama for Theremins and toys.
A moment from the improvisations in Hoxton Hall for First Class Evening Entertainments: Andrew has left four plastic crocodiles sitting in a line on the otherwise empty stage, jaws grinning open. From one of the many concealed offstage spaces Frances starts to sing an operatic aria. For a magical suspended moment, a chance encounter of which Frances knows nothing, we experience the uncanny bathos of four crocodiles appearing to sing Musettas waltz song from La Boheme.
The Theremin was an early device for the electronic production of pitched sound. It has properties that make it sound uncannily like the human voice. Its aural spookiness relates to the sense of the uncanny that we similarly experience with puppets and dolls as replicants of the human.
Puppets, dolls, and mechanical toys have been employed in narratives from Romanticism onward to figure our general unease at the effects of mechanisation upon the human subject in industrial society: as metaphors for the loss of soul and autonomy, for the alienations and reifications of modern life.
In this piece we will explore the human tendency to anthropomorphize the inanimate world, and play upon the sense of the uncanny which results when boundaries between animate and inanimate are blurred or transgressed.