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Friday: Yeats Set to Music by Roland Martin and Opera Scara

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The premier of a musical setting by local musician/composer Roland Martin of the play Calvary by William Butler Yeats will take place at 1:15pm Friday (April 21) in St. Joseph’s University Church, Main Street, near UB South Campus.

Yeats specified a musical accompaniment to his poetic drama, but didn’t supply one.  Martin’s setting is for six musicians, three instrumentalists, on harp, flute, and viola, and three vocalists.  The vocal component will be part “regular” singing, part Arnold Schönbergian Sprechstimme, a vocal technique halfway between singing and speaking.  In addition there are six actors with spoken parts.  Yeats does not slavishly follow the Gospel accounts in his story of the crucifixion of Jesus.  The characters in his version include Jesus, Judas, and Lazarus—freshly raised from the dead, and remarkably, not entirely happy about it—some people you just can’t do a favor for—and three Roman soldiers.  All the text—for actors and singers—is by Yeats, and includes all of Yeats’ text.  Yeats’ plays in general and this one in particular relate to Japanese Noh drama in terms of their symbolistic and ritualistic qualities, and employment of dance and music.  Choreography is by Tom Ralabate, and stage direction by Father Jack Ledwon.

The performance is a production of Opera Sacra.  Admission is free.

jack foran