Shobana Jeyasingh Dance presents CLORINDA AGONISTES at Sadler’s Wells and on tour

Shobana Jeyasingh Dance presents Clorinda Agonistes – Clorinda the Warrior, a new work in two acts on Il combattimento by Monteverdi and a score commissioned by Kareem Roustom, performed on stage with tenor Ed Lyon.

London premiere: Sadler’s Wells September 9 and 10 (press night September 9)
Then tour Snape Maltings, The Lowry Salford and Oxford Playhouse

Shobana Jeyasingh says, “At a time of global culture wars, the time now seems ripe to revisit Monteverdi’s epic struggle between a Christian knight and a Saracen woman. Clorinda the Warrior is a surprisingly charismatic figure and an inspiring example of a powerful Middle Eastern woman. , something we see all too rarely. I’ve always been interested in telling stories in my work, stories that are best told through the power of the moving body.

Clorinda Agonistes – Clorinda the Warrior is an inventive hybrid of opera, dance and video projection inspired by Monteverdi’s groundbreaking 1624 lyric cantata Il combattimento di Clorinda e Tancredi. In two acts, this is a bold new retelling of a story that explores violence, resilience and revelation across cultures and times.

In the first act, in a radical reinterpretation of what is commonly considered a love affair, the Muslim warrior Clorinda (Jemima Brown) who refuses to reveal her name battles the crusader Tancredi (Jonathan Goddard) in medieval Jerusalem. In doing so, she becomes a standard bearer for women who remain strong in the face of danger. In an act of time-traveling bravery, the second act ushers us into the 21st century. Clorinda, now reimagined as four dancers (Brown, Emily Thompson-Smith, Harriet Waghorn and Ellen Yilma), is catapulted into today’s Middle Eastern conflict where this time she is the author of her own story.

Monteverdi’s sublime baroque score is associated with a new commission from the Syrian-American composer Kareem Roustom. Roustom’s composition is his own response to Monteverdi’s story and includes the Middle Eastern social dance Dabke and the haunting recorded voice of Syrian mezzo-soprano Dima Orsho singing in Arabic. Roustom’s score alludes to the instrumental textures and rhythms of Il combattimento and uses them as starting points.

Both pieces are performed live on stage by a string quartet and one of the UK’s most popular tenors, Ed Lyon. In the first act, Lyon is a narrator who gradually becomes immersed in the story he is telling and becomes physically involved in the action on stage. In the second act, he takes on the role of a documentary filmmaker.

Other collaborators include musical director Robert Hollingworth who plays harpsichord for Il combattimento; Merle Hensel whose scenography is inspired by forests and destroyed cities; and Nick Hillel/Yeast Culture whose projections for Act Two create a sense of a constructed contemporary world.

Kareem Roustom is an Emmy-nominated composer whose cross-genre collaborations include commissions from conductor Daniel Barenboim and the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra and the Kronos Quartet as well as arrangements for Shakira and Tina Turner. Of his composition for Clorinda Agonistes he says:

“My response to Monteverdi was to use the same text he used – Tasso’s poem, Jerusalem Liberated. I chose specific lines which, in a new context and sung in Arabic, could express new meanings By giving Clorinda this text in Arabic, I feel like we are empowering her and freeing her to be herself.The other text that Dima Orsho sings is a 1000 year old poem that the Baghdadi poet Al-Abiwardi wrote after the Crusaders ransacked Jerusalem, who sat idly by while the Crusaders took Jerusalem.It is quite striking how relevant this poem is today.

Performance dates

Friday 9 & Saturday 10 September at 7:30 p.m.
Sadler’s Wells Theatre, LONDON
Rosebery Avenue, London EC1R 4TN
Tickets: 020 7863 8000 / www.sadlerswells.com

Saturday October 8
SNAPE Maltings Concert Hall
Snape Bridge, Snape IP17 1SP
Tickets: 01728 688303 / www.brittenpearsorg.com

Tuesday 18 and Wednesday 19 October at 7:30 p.m.
The Lowry, SALFORD
Pier 8, The Quays, Salford, M50 3AZ
Tickets: 0343 208 6000 / www.thelowry.com

Tuesday 15 & Wednesday 16 November
OXFORD Playhouse
11-12 Beaumont Street, Oxford OX1 2LW
Tickets: 01865 305305 / www.oxfordplayhouse.com

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