Photo: Burying The Dead: Emily Owen And Jenni Harper Of Ceruleo by Robert Piwko
Burying the Dead
“Despite its grim title, this “concert-drama” devised by Clare Norburn is an entertaining celebration of Henry Purcell, the English baroque composer who died at the height of his powers, aged 36. It has been touring for a while, and certainly deserves more life after this single London staging as part of the enterprising Baroque at the Edge festival.”
"What is most impressive about Norburn’s conception is the way that the various strata and elements combine and cohere so effortlessly. Past and present, truth and fantasy, real and imagined come together in a tightly knit and intimate drama. The personal narrative is embedded neatly within historical, cultural and political contexts.....
Director Tom Guthrie has imaginatively and skilfully integrated these various elements with the simplest of dramatic means and the whole achieved a directness worthy of Purcell himself...
The integration of drama and song seemed almost to re-create the theatre of Purcell’s day, to place his songs back within their original context. As the lights slowly diminished upon the dying phrases of Dido’s lament, we had been gifted a magical vision of the man behind the music, the very human soul behind the creative genius."
"[Clare Norburn] leads the… furtherance of Early Music appreciation as an open door to a stranger…. it needed someone of her scholarship and informed imagination [combined] with courage and conviction…."
Breaking the Rules
“The composer was brought to life splendidly by Gerald Kyd, who strode around the stage in his fur-trimmed princely robe, beat his breast, wept, laughed maniacally, and occasionally paused to let slip a pithy witticism."
“A well-judged balance of just enough history for context, and plenty of Gesualdo’s music”
“A compelling set-piece, allowing the music to shine.”
“Daring and vivid one-man psychodrama”
“The writing is decent and doesn’t just paint a murderous moron: we witness how he was jealous of his big brother, desperate for his mother’s love, sexually humiliated on his wedding night, abandoned by God.Best is how the music is woven in, with six singers emerging from the back of the church, then circling Gesualdo, line blurred between chapel choir and the voices in his head. “
“An absolute peach of a story… that murder, described in graphic detail – with Norburn adding a rather splendid twist which is dramatically convincing whether or not it’s true… I hope the production, which drew a packed audience, has many more opportunities for performance. Can someone please alert the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse?"
“Absolutely fantastic in every way: a perfect setting with the church space being used to good effect... I feel privileged to have been at such a world-class performance... Stunning performance – great marriage of music, drama, sound and light. Terrific, original programming. More like this please!... Words are completely inadequate to describe this superb presentation... A highlight of my musical year.”
Audience members at Buxton International Festival - July 2016
“Beautifully sung…. a really special musical experience”
"a multimedia experience of light, song, music & storytelling"