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Shobana Jeyasingh Dance Presents CLORINDA AGONISTES at Sadler's Wells and On Tour

Performances premiere on 9 & 10 September.

Shobana Jeyasingh Dance Presents CLORINDA AGONISTES at Sadler's Wells and On Tour

Shobana Jeyasingh Dance presents Clorinda Agonistes - Clorinda the Warrior, a new work in two acts set to Monteverdi's Il combattimento and a commissioned score by Kareem Roustom, played live on stage with tenor Ed Lyon.

London premiere: Sadler's Wells 9 & 10 September (press night 9 September)
Then touring to Snape Maltings, The Lowry Salford and Oxford Playhouse

Shobana Jeyasingh says: "In an era of global culture wars, now seems a good time to revisit Monteverdi's epic struggle between a Christian knight and a Saracen woman. Clorinda the warrior is a strikingly charismatic figure and an inspiring example of a powerful Middle Eastern woman, something we see all too rarely. I have always been interested in telling stories in my work, stories that are best told through the power of the moving body."

Clorinda Agonistes - Clorinda the Warrior is an inventive hybrid of opera, dance and video projections inspired by Monteverdi's ground-breaking 1624 operatic cantata, Il combattimento di Clorinda e Tancredi. In two acts, it is a bold new telling of a story which explores violence, resilience and revelation across cultures and times.

In Act One, in a radical reinterpretation of what is commonly seen as a love story, the Muslim warrior Clorinda (Jemima Brown) who refuses to reveal her name battles the Crusader Tancredi (Jonathan Goddard) in medieval Jerusalem. In doing so, she becomes a standard bearer for women standing strong in the face of danger. In a bravura act of time travel, the second act brings us into the 21st century. Clorinda, now reimagined as four dancers (Brown, Emily Thompson-Smith, Harriet Waghorn and Ellen Yilma), is catapulted into today's Middle Eastern conflict where this time she is the author of her own story.

Monteverdi's sublime Baroque score is paired with a new commission from Syrian-American composer Kareem Roustom. Roustom's composition is his own response to the Monteverdi story and includes the Middle Eastern social dance Dabke and the haunting recorded voice of Syrian mezzo-soprano Dima Orsho singing in Arabic. Roustom's score hints at the instrumental textures and rhythms of Il combattimento and uses these as points of departure.

Both pieces are performed live on stage by a string quartet and one of the UK's most popular tenors, Ed Lyon. In Act One, Lyon is a narrator who gradually gets drawn in to the story that he is telling and becomes physically involved in the action on stage. In Act Two, he takes on the character of a documentary film maker.

Other collaborators include musical director Robert Hollingworth who plays harpsichord for Il combattimento; Merle Hensel whose set design is inspired by forests and destroyed cities; and Nick Hillel/Yeast Culture whose projections for Act Two create a sense of a constructed contemporary world.

Kareem Roustom is an Emmy-nominated composer whose genre-crossing collaborations include commissions from conductor Daniel Barenboim and the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra and the Kronos Quartet as well as arrangements for Shakira and Tina Turner. Of his composition for Clorinda Agonistes he says:

"My response to Monteverdi was to use the same text that he used - Tasso's poem Jerusalem Liberated. I chose specific lines that, in a new context and sung in Arabic, could express new meanings. By giving Clorinda this text in Arabic I feel that we are empowering her and freeing her to be her true self. The other text that Dima Orsho sings is a 1000-year-old poem which the Baghdadi poet Al-Abiwardi wrote after the Crusaders had sacked Jerusalem. Al-Abiwardi excoriates the Baghdad leadership that idly sat by while the Crusaders took Jerusalem. It is quite striking how relevant this poem is today."

Performance Dates

Friday 9 & Saturday 10 September at 7.30pm
Sadler's Wells Theatre, LONDON
Rosebery Ave, London EC1R 4TN
Tickets: 020 7863 8000 / www.sadlerswells.com

Saturday 8 October
SNAPE Maltings Concert Hall
Snape Bridge, Snape IP17 1SP
Tickets: 01728 688303 / www.brittenpearsorg.com

Tuesday 18 & Wednesday 19 October at 7.30pm
The Lowry, SALFORD
Pier 8, The Quays, Salford, M50 3AZ
Tickets: 0343 208 6000 / www.thelowry.com

Tuesday 15 & Wednesday 16 November
OXFORD Playhouse
11-12 Beaumont St, Oxford OX1 2LW
Tickets: 01865 305305 / www.oxfordplayhouse.com




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