IL CORAGO presents
at the Galway Early Music Festival
14 May, 2015
The Harp Consort & St Nicholas Schola Cantorum
with Wolodymyr Smishkewych as Daniel
directed by Andrew Lawrence-King
PLAY-TIME: ancient ritual, ordered chaos, medieval opera
Ludus Danielis, the 12th-century Play of Daniel – an exquisite manuscript, a treasure-chest of ancient melodies, a sacred ritual, a musical mystery play, a late-night party, a workshop for singers and musicians, a liturgical drama, a framework for improvisation, a code of behaviour, the younger generation’s outburst against authority, a regional protest against central government, a unique moment of emotional release in a world of work – can well be described as ‘medieval opera’.
Andrew Lawrence-King’s staged production transports the audience back in time, to experience the largest-scale musical work of the Middle Ages as participants. In the role of the townspeople of Beauvais, they witness an extraordinary spectacle of partying monks, hide-and-seek and running games, a donkey on the loose, beautiful Queens & feasting Kings, doom-laden writing on the wall, invasion and assassination, political intrigue, unfairly discriminatory legislation, a thrilling escape from savage lions, a hungry guru (a legend in his own hair-raising lunchtime), apocalyptic prophecy, angelic revelation, bitter lamenting and joyful celebration.
To poetry and music in the strong rhythms of conductus, monks step out in procession, musicians improvise thousands of variations, harps and drums play, choristers clap hands and dance. In the title-role, a medieval tenor faces the challenges of a two-octave musical range, dramatic twists from triumph to disaster and back again, and a Den full of Lions.
Within the ancient cathedral the Work of God, the eternal round of plainchant liturgy marked the weeks, the days, the hours. Even at midnight, the monks broke the Great Silence to sing the service of Mattins. But on one cold, dark night in the northern French Abbey of Beauvais, a young lad interrupted the sacred ritual to announce Playtime…
Baroque opera & orchestral director, Early Harp virtuoso & continuo-wizard, specialist in Baroque Gesture & Historical Action, Andrew Lawrence-King is one of the world’s leading performers of Early Music. He directs The Harp Consort & Il Corago.
He directed the 400th-anniversary production of Peri’s Euridice (1600) at the Getty Centre, LA, and the first modern-times performances in Florence of the Florentine Intermedi (1589). His recording of Almira (1705) won the American Handel Society Prize. In 2012, his direction of Cavalieri’s Anima & Corpo (1600) won Russia’s highest theatrical award, the Golden Mask. In 2013, he directed (stage & music) the first modern-times staged production Landi’s La Morte d’Orfeo (1619) and the first modern-times performance in Spain of the earliest known Spanish Oratorio (1704).
Andrew Lawrence-King has directed the medieval Ludus Danielis in King’s College Cambridge and York Minster, and on tour in London and Copenhagen. As harp soloist, he won a Grammy for Dinastia Borgia directed by Jordi Savall. His duo-recital with Savall won Australia’s prestigious Helpmann Award, and their recordings of Celtic Viol have been worldwide prize-winning hits.