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LITURGIE 15/16/17 December 2016
By Other Means Gallery
Unit 11, 38-40 Upper Clapton Road, London, E5 8BQ
Ballet-opera Liturgie was first conceived by Diaghilev and his Ballets Russes collaborators while carousing with the Italian Futurists and Igor Stravinsky.
Financial considerations and Stravinsky’s obstinacy meant that Liturgie was never completed nor performed, and we must instead rely on the records that remain: a few photographs of the dancers in rehearsal, as well as extensive designs by Natalia Goncharova and a number of accounts of the work in correspondence and diaries. Goncharova’s dynamic drawings dictate the physical movement of the dancers, indicating that the set and performers should create a single plane, working together like tessellating geometric shapes.
The musical component of the original ballet-opera was left incomplete; when the project was abandoned Diaghilev had considered plain chant, dance in silence on a resonant drum-like stage, and a “Futurist Orchestra of sounds” as alternatives. In this version, Daniel Lee Chappell’s music uses scintillating modalities, choral writing, and plainchant to evoke the orthodoxy that surrounds this story, combining them with a distinctively twenty-first century musical language.
Taking place a century after the project was conceived, Spectra Ensemble’s production marks the world premiere of Liturgie, presenting the Orthodax rite as a total work of art that whimsically combines the satirical and the reverential.