Aikido, Love, War, The Crusades and The Australian Brandenburg Orchestra

Rebecca Varidel
25th Oct 2017

The Australian Brandenburg Orchestra is well known for the contemporary staging they bring to period music. Performances resonate with the patina of Baroque instruments and emanating notes. Yet the design costumes and lighting, and even barefoot performances, add another dimension. 

Director Constantine Costi, Costume designer Genevieve Graham, Set designer Charlotte Mungomery, and Lighting designer John Rayment - the Creative Team behind the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra production of Handel's Messiah earlier this season, return united with Artistic Director Paul Dwyer, for 'Bittersweet Obsessions' to create more groundbreaking, century bending, innovative magic.

Monteverdi | Lamento della Ninfa. 
A beautiful, moving story of loss and mourning, the nymph, angrily and with broken heart, sings the story of her traitorous lover.
Monteverdi | Il combattimento di Tancredi e Clorinda. 
A story of love, tragedy and mistaken identity.
J.S. BACH | Coffee Cantata

The music by Monteverdi and JS Bach is bold and brave, and the tales they tell are as relevant today as they were four centuries ago. Life's great mysteries will be compressed into a couple of hours of entertainment and put under the microscope in a dramatically staged Brandenburg concert.

This show will explore the sweetness and bitterness of life, obsessions taken to the brink, a life of love, joy and pleasure that also brings pain.

The Combat of Tancredi and Clorinda is at the centre of the three, a timeless tale of love and mistaken identity. Sourced from the evocatively titled Madrigals of War and Love, Claudio Monteverdi’s eighth and final book of madrigals musically renders passages of 16th-century Italian poet Torquato Tasso’s epic poem 'Jerusalem Liberated'. The text explores the fused themes of love and war.

Star-crossed lovers Clorinda, performed by resplendent young soprano Natasha Wilson (New Zealand), and Tancredi, performed by terrifically talented baritone Jakob Bloch Jespersen (Denmark), engage in mortal combat on a battlefield in the Holy Land during the sixth year of the first crusade. The heartbreaking romance unfolds in a dark, dystopian world created by Costi

Monteverdi's score was ahead of its time in many ways, and calls for some of the first known uses of instrumental performance techniques such as and tremolo which heighten tension and enliven aspects of the action such as horse galloping and swords clashing.

The Australian Brandenburg Orchestra will tonight, premiere a different form of arts as part of the staging for in The Combat of Tancredi and Clorinda.

Aligned with the more than 400 year old musical score will be a performance of a more than 400 year old martial art - Aikido. During rehearsals, it was performer [6th Dan Aikido Master] Andrew Sunter from Aikido in Sydney who assigned the comparison.

"He [great sword-saint Miyamoto Musashi (c. 1584 – 1645) writer, calligrapher and artist] and Monteverdi were contemporaries across the globe" as he explained that Aikido originates from the early Edo period of Japan.

"It’s very exciting to be able to present the beauty of aikido as both a cultural art and a devastating form of close combat to support the amazing local and international musicians" he pondered.

Beyond the theatrical fighting performance, Sunter explained the true spiritual nature of Aikido; the purpose of the ancient art is 'the way', of bringing 'the force' inside. 

Bittersweet Obsessions opens at City Recital Hall tonight with Sydney performances until November 1st.