* Notes *
Following a decades long tradition, Cal Performances presented yet another fascinating hybrid work, this time a combination of contemporary circus arts and Baroque opera last weekend from the Australian troupe Circa.
Those expecting to hear Monteverdi's Il Ritorno d'Ulisse in patria might have been taken aback to hear Quincy Grant's 75 minute arrangement, which included arias from the opera along side electronic stylings composed by Grant himself.
The spare ensemble only had four musicians: cellist Pal Banda, violinist/violist Nicholas Bootiman, harpist Cecilia de Santa Maria, and music director/keyboardist Natalie Murray-Beale, who really did seem to have everything perfectly in hand as she moved seamlessly from one genre to another. The two singers, mezzo-soprano Kate Howden and baritone Benedict Nelson, were amplified, heightening the sense we were hearing something rather different than Monteverdi's work.
The performance was much more about theatrics of the body than of music and tellingly, the audience often clapped over the music. The seven acrobats featured were hard to look away from, and seemed to push the very boundaries of the body to disturbing and devastating effect. Bodies were flung against the floor or against an upstage wall, balanced upon one another or on ropes, loops, and a swing. Bridie Hooper had a segment in which she seemed to be fighting her own arm, she seemed almost possessed, yet this was somehow engrossing and even beautiful.
* Tattling *
In the second row, I was right behind a fellow blogger, who was of course very quiet. The woman next to me (FF 107) talked a little at the outset but was silent for the rest. The man next to my date (FF 110) had his phone out for much of the performance.