Arts Festival: The Oresteia Experience

The Christchurch Arts Festival 2017 (CAF17) is on during August and September. CAF17 boasts over 50 shows, and we’re very excited that UC’s very own School of Music, Department of Classics and Teece Museum of Classical Antiquities are collaborating to present the Oresteia Experience. 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 duration of the show features a talk on the dramatic aspects of the composition and performance itself by both Professor Mark Menzies, Head of Performance, School of Music, and Dr. Patrick O’Sullivan, Head of Classics. 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 very keen to see how the Oresteia Experience is recast in Xenakis’ vision and under the direction of the School of Music’s Head of Performance and performed to a modern audience. He notes that 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 extending a long and creative tradition of music performance inspired by the classical world.

One of the co-curators of the Teece Museum of Classical Antiquities, Terri Elder is delighted to support the production of the UC School of Music Oresteia Experience for the Christchurch Arts Festival. She says this event “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 viewers to engage with Ancient discourse and understand the cultural context of the artefacts which gave rise to the mythology behind the performance.

170802 Oresteia Arts Festival

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. Mark 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”.

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.

WHEN: Sunday 10 September 2017, 6.30pm-8.30pm

VENUE: Great Hall The Arts Centre

TICKETS: $39 / Concession $36 / Student Rush $20