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Staging Scores: Devising Contemporary Performances from Classical Music

Pinchbeck, Michael ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-8444-5549 and Egan, Kevin ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-9404-6733 (2022) Staging Scores: Devising Contemporary Performances from Classical Music. Representing Classical Music in the Twenty-First Century, 7 (457).

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n this article, Egan and Pinchbeck combine Postdramatic Theatre (Lehmann, 2006), Composed Theatre (Rebstock and Roesner, 2012) and Score Theatre (Spagnolo, 2017) to address the representation of classical music in two separate contemporary performances they were involved in making. Egan addresses the question of ‘adapting scores’ in relation to Plane Performance’s Traviata (2010), where Verdi’s operatic score became the main ‘text’ from which the company were able to deconstruct and re-imagine the opera as a piece of contemporary theatre; one that celebrated the complexities and subtle nuances of the classical composition and brought a ‘sense’ of the opera to a contemporary theatre audience. The research focusses on the feedback loop between performance score and music score as an additive process of ‘musicalising’ the performance and ‘theatricalising’ the composition. Taking Etchells’ understanding of the interplay between ‘re-enacting and reactivating’ the score (2015) alongside Roesner’s sense of sampling as ‘the transformation of a citation into composable material’ (2016) the research examines the useful exchanges that emerge between the disparate texts of the performance world and the many ‘texts’ present in the music score. Pinchbeck addresses how to ‘stage scores’ by reflecting on Concerto (2016). The research is framed by Ravel’s instruction to conductors to ‘follow the score’ and biographises a piece of music (Concerto for the Left Hand). Using verbatim text, autobiographical and postdramatic devising techniques and archival research, the work advances Rebstock and Roesner’s definition of ‘composed theatre’ (2013) and Adrian Curtin’s ‘orchestral theatre’ (2019) by using music to structure theatre in both form and content. Concerto ‘stages scores’ by creating post-dramatic, post-traumatic performance and de-constructing/de-orchestrating post-conflict narratives around its original composition to reconfigure the relationship between audience and performer into an immersive and embodied ‘theatricalised concert’ (Bonshek, 2006).

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