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dj 07-18-2017 12:03 PM

Some ancient Greece with a new twist
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Hi, all:

I thought I'd put this up for people to hear.

We are working on a new musical adaptation of Aristophanes' 411 B.C. comedy Lysistrata. It's all about how the women of Greece band together to put a stop to a war: it's fun, funny, outrageous and very sexy.

And, I think we've created a new version that keeps the intent of the original and adds a lot of 21st century sass to it.

After an Act One that includes numbers like "Athens", a jazz nod to "New York, New York, it's a wonderful town", "Lysistrata's Plan", with lyrics like "The men can never beat us if they have to stand for long" and "Shut Your Mouth", in which the women take over running the country, I wanted a quiet song to end the act, but hadn't been able to get a hook into one until last week, when two fragments of ancient songs came together into a unique piece.

The first part is based on "You wild goddesses who dart across the sky" which is a fifth century B.C. fragment of music from the play Orestes and which may have been composed by the great classical Greek dramatist Euripides himself.

The second part is based on the "Seikolos Epitaph", which is the oldest complete song we have, dating from the 1st century A.D. It was found carved on a short pillar (a plinth, really) that a Greek family had used for centuries as a planter holder. The epitaph reads "I have been placed here by Seikolos, as a long-lasting memorial to his love", and below that is a song complete with Greek notation and lyric.

Lysistrata, whose husband has been away at war for many months, prays to the gods that he be returned safely. As she finishes singing, she exits, leaving the stage empty for the last few bars as the lights fade. It's not snappy jazz, but it ends the act on just the right note.


Sherry C 07-19-2017 11:45 PM

Re: Some ancient Greece with a new twist
Hi David,

Thanks for sharing this piece. I know the time period is 5th century Greece, but this is piece - and the entire work of yours - is all "renaissance" in the sense of bringing together a wide ranging amalgam of sources and styles!

Methinks th'art having much fun putting this together - hopefully at least as much fun as I had reading the description and then listening to "Lycon My Husband." I love the modal effect, and your instrumentation elicits - to my humble mind - the appropriate atmosphere. Will you be having live musicians for this performance? I can't help but think but how cool it would be to play in your orchestra pit :)

Well done, sir!


dj 07-20-2017 12:27 PM

Re: Some ancient Greece with a new twist
Hi, Sherry:

I would be delighted to have you in our orchestra pit -- but we don't have one!

Unfortunately, our theatre is really too small to allow any live music bigger than one or two musicians, so we rely, as in this case, mainly on pre-recorded stuff.

We've used 5-7 piece orchestras for a couple of shows, but at the expense of much onstage space and most of our wing-space. We do have a 3-manual WurliTzer concert organ that we have hauled out and used a couple of times, notably for our adaptation of Charles Dickens's The Chimes, which is all organ and chime music.

While not as "live", at least pre-recorded music is predictable.

And, thanks for your comments on the piece. I'm not sure how a paying audience will react to it -- modality is not as common in show tunes as it once was (say, 2,400 years ago.) :)


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