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UC gives Christchurch a unique Oresteia Experience

UC gives Christchurch a unique Oresteia Experience

University of Canterbury Arts colleagues from UC Music, UC Classics and the Teece Museum are collaborating to present the unique Oresteia Experience, as part of the Christchurch Arts Festival 2017 (CAF17).

A specially curated tour of the University of Canterbury’s Teece Museum of Classical Antiquities and Logie Collection of Antiquities sets the scene for the spine-tingling New Zealand premiere of Iannis Xenakis’ operatic take on Aeschylus’ Oresteia.

UC’s Head of Classics Dr Patrick O’Sullivan says that the New Zealand premiere of Iannis Xenakis’ operatic take on Aeschylus’ Oresteia “is a collaboration that only the Classics and Music Departments could produce”.

The two-hour show features a talk on the dramatic aspects of the composition and performance itself by both UC Music’s Head of Performance Professor Mark Menzies, and Head of Classics Dr Patrick O’Sullivan. Following this, a tour of the University’s Teece Museum of Classical Antiquities will set the scene for the performance in the Great Hall.

Dr O’Sullivan has rich experience in researching ancient Greek theatre and is keen to see how the Oresteia Experience is recast in Xenakis’ vision, under the direction of Professor Menzies, and performed to a modern audience.

“The links between Greek myth and opera go back for centuries, so this new production of Xenakis’ challenging work will be not only innovative but also extend a long and creative tradition of music performance inspired by the classical world,” Dr O’Sullivan says.

Co-curator of the Teece Museum of Classical Antiquities Terri Elder is delighted to support the production of the Oresteia Experience for CAF17.

“It draws on the strengths and connections between Music and Classics to create a truly unique experience that should be both challenging and entrancing, as the performance explores themes of belief, loyalty, family, justice and revenge.”

She says that the Oresteia Experience is an opportunity for modern audiences to engage with ancient discourse and understand the cultural context of the artefacts which gave rise to the mythology behind the performance.

Professor Menzies speaks of the horror, suspense and the very basic human emotions that underlie the experience of what the complicated story of the Oresteia is about. He describes the performance as “incredibly potent on an emotional level” and introducing the experience beforehand will “give an appropriate outline to the story” allowing the audience to fully engage with the performance.

“Xenakis took this iconic work of literature and tore it apart, leaving chorus in reimagined ancient Greece, in the most visceral exciting emotion vehicle possible,” Professor Menzies says.

Celebrated international opera singer Randall Scotting, who continues to garner praise in the opera house and on the concert stage for his versatility, depth of musical interpretation and “technical brilliance with his delivery of spot on lines of coloratura”, will feature. The Oresteia Experience will be Scotting’s New Zealand premiere.
• Music Director and Conductor: Mark Menzies
• Choreographer: Julia Harvie
• Designer: Stuart Lloyd-Harris
• Baritone/Countertenor: Randall Scotting
• Chorus: UC Consortia
• Musicians: UC School of Music staff and students
• Pre-concert talk: Professor Mark Menzies and Dr Patrick O’Sullivan
• Co-Curator for Teece Museum Tour: Terri Elder
UC School of Music: Oresteia Experience, Sunday 10 September 2017, 6.30pm-8.30pm, at UC ARTS and the Great Hall, Arts Centre, Christchurch. TICKETS: $39 / Concession $36 / Student Rush $20, http://www.artsfestival.co.nz/oresteia-experience
*Please note this performance includes violent imagery and music played at very high volumes which may not be suitable for some audience members. Discretion is advised.

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