Heiner Goebbels: Songs of War I Have Seen, conducted by Anu Tali
Monteverdi: Il Combattimento di Tancredi e Clorinda (2009), conducted by Stephen Stubbs
This collaboration with Seattle’s premier new music ensemble, Seattle Chamber Players, began with the idea to bring Heiner Goebbels to Seattle to recreate his major music-theater piece called Songs of Wars I Have Seen, composed for the re-opening of London’s Southbank in 2003. In the Seattle context the partnership of Pacific Musicworks and Seattle Chamber Players will allow us to recreate the fascinating combination of modern and baroque instruments with wartime text fragments of Gertrude Stein. On the Boards, the third partner, is exactly the right Seattle venue to create a meeting place for followers of new music and early music, as well as those interested in the latest developments in theater and the visual arts. To form a double-bill with Songs, Pacific Musicworks has created a new staging of Monteverdi’s Il Combattimento di Tancredi et Clorinda.
Monteverdi’s Combattimento from 1624 belongs to the first generation of operatic masterpieces and broke new ground in a number of ways including the innovative use of new string techniques, and a new level of emotional intensity. The text, from Tasso’s Gerusalemme Liberata, tells the story of Tancredi the Christian Soldier in love with the Saracen maid Clorinda. When they meet on a dark battlefield by night he takes her to be an enemy combatant. They fight to the death, Tancredi wins, then discovers the appalling truth just before Clorinda dies in his arms. The dual themes of war and its effects on women make the pairing with Songs a meeting of minds and artistic visions across four centuries between Monteverdi and Goebbels. It also offers a creative opportunity for choreographer Anna Mansbridge and artist Claire Cowie to re-imagine the timeless story for our time.
Photos by Bill Mohn