Wednesday, 28 March 2012

The Creative Team - direction

Martin Butler  - Director

Martin Butler is a British born Choreographer , Performance Director and Art Director.

He was trained in Drama at Manchester University, and than later Choreographry and Perfromance at Amsterdam School of the Arts, in the Netherlands.

On graduating he won the Prince Bernhard prize for most promising graduate, the year later he received the Amsterdam Encouragement prize for Choreographry for his short piece with the Dutch National Ballet, and came first in the NL/ NRW competition for new Dutch and German choreographers. Since 1998 he has been staging dance and performance work, at various theatres and festivals in europe. His work always bridged and combined various disciplines, dance, theatre, music, film, performance, new media, and fashion, and through this interdisciplinary approach his work explores the new dramatic that the combination of different genres facilitate.

He has collaborated in the past with the Dutch National Ballet, Dansgroup Kriztina de Chatel, Yoyoi Kusama /Andrea Crews, Wiels Museum in Brussels, Hochschule for Neue Media Köln, Masahiro Miwa and Annimax Multimedia Theater Bonn, David Linton, New York , The Drama Academy of Cluj- Napoca, Romania, Renée Coraij (Jan Fabre), Flora and fauna visions, Berlin, and Chen Shi Zheng and Paul Daniel, Bregenz festival in Austria, amongst many others next to developing his own productions with the Liminal Institute that he was artistic director of until 2012.

His New media and installation work has been shown in the European Media arts festival in Osnabrück, Fondacion Telefonica in Lima, Pixxelpoint festival in Slovenia, the Museum of Modern Art in Arnhem, Marres, Masstricht, Salon Amsterdam and Mediamatic, amongst many others. In 2009 he created a flash mob performance for the 20th anniverary of the fall of the Berlin wall, where 10,000 people remade the path of the original wall route .

From 2004 - 2012 he has been working on the creative and curatorial team of Mediamatic, Amsterdam, developing exhibitions and events, including the Amsterdam Bienalle and the IK, IK, I K series of exhibitions dealing with self representation.

In 2010 -2012 he collaborated as researcher and writer, for a project of Delft University and Prof. Caroline Nevejan, examining performance presence and trust in the internet age, the book will be published in Summer 2012.

Since 1993 he has also been working as a commercial Art Director for fashion related events, and has collaborated with Diesel, Diesel Black Gold, Moshino, Lee jeans, Harmont and Blaine, Aliveshoes, Camel active,  FILA, And Beyond, Andrea Crews, and Elle, amongst many others.

Apart from  creating a shadow play version of Lully's Baroque Opera, “Persée” for children, together with the Italian Baroque Ensemble L'aura Rilucente premiering this summer at the International Theatre Festival of Almagro, Spain, and  he will premiere two new short films at the Istanbul Modern Art Museum, Turkey in Fall, and is developing a new opera based on the  Aldus Huxley's "Brave New World"  for  2013/2014.

online portfolio 

The Creative Team - the ensemble

Ensemble L'aura Rilucente

The Ensemble L’Aura Rilucente came to life in the historical halls of the Renaissance Villa Simonetta, home to the Accademia Internazionale della Musica, Italy’s most reknown school of Early music, located in the city of Milan.

Coming from four different countries in order to perfect their knowledge of historical performance practice with internationally acclaimed musicians such as: Mara Galassi, Stefano Montanari, Lorenzo Ghielmi and Gaetano Nasillo, the young members of this group met at the academy during their course of chamber music in 2009. 

The fixed member of the ensemble are 

Sara Bagnati (Violin), 
Heriberto Delgado Gutiérrez (Violin), 
Silvia Serrano Monesterolo (Cello),  
Maximilian Ehrhardt (Baroque Harp),
and Giorgio Dal Monti (Harpsicord).

The element that sets this ensemble apart is the fruitful interaction of different personalities and temperaments. United by their passion for early music they found an instinctive and emotive way of interpretation of the Italian musical repertoire of the 17th and 18th century.

They performed during several concert series such as “Il clavicembalo a San Marco” (Brera, Milano), “I Concerti di San Girolamo” (Bagnacavallo, Ravenna) and “I Concerti Dell’Accademia” (National Museum, Ravenna).

They also were featured as a young upcoming ensemble in a concert series by the Accademia Bizantina, and have recently been asked to perform at the "Altemusiek Tagen" in Berlin in October 2012.

A world of light and shadow

Giving life to the Canvas

The sense of awe, peculiar to baroque art, resulted from a revolution in the style and manner of representing space. The artists of the seventeenth century inherited from the Renaissance the idea, perhaps best expressed by Leonardo da Vinci, that "the first object of the painter is to make a flat plane appear as a body in relief and projecting from that plane"; or, in other words, to give the painted object a three-dimensional reality. Baroque artists extended the idea of giving life to the canvas still further. The object was meant not simply to exist in three dimensions but to move. Just as seventeenth-century science introduced motion into our understanding of the physical universe , artists introduced motion into their work, so that space extends into the fourth dimension of time.

Baroque art produces an illusion not only of presence but of motion in the sense that a physicist would understand it: the displacement of a body with mass through three-dimensional space over time. In this sense, baroque art is theatrical: the illusion of motion produces an effect that is both figuratively and literally dramatic. The theater, too, is a visual art. At the same time as painters were experimenting with novel effects that suggested movement on canvas, the use of perspectival scenery became common in Europe. Both art forms rely on trompe l'oeil devices, on illusion, tricks of light and the clever placement of drapery, for example, to heighten the viewer's sense of the reality of what is depicted.

The space of baroque art is projective. Within the picture, everything recedes toward a vanishing point, plunging into the depths of the pictorial space with exaggerated velocity. The represented objects simultaneously invade the space of the onlooker. Baroque art unites the painting and the viewer in a single space, creating the illusion that the image is as real as its beholder and that the pictorial space extends infinitely.

By the second half of the seventeenth century, most people knew that the universe was infinite, containing a multitude of suns around which revolved countless planets, and stars. The concept of infinite space generated great excitement and equally great anxiety. Art historian John Rupert Martin suggests that this sense of pictorial space is analogous to the broader, cosmologic concept of infinity that was gaining hold during the seventeenth century .

A world of light and shadow, and in baroque art more generally, the effect of movement and action was more important than the effect of symmetry and balance that had dominated the art of the Renaissance. Baroque artists aimed to undo the classical unity of form and function, to unbalance the composition and achieve the impression of movement and space that the new age demanded.

Contrast is the primary tool through which baroque art prompts a sensation of the infinite in the mind of the beholder. The infinite cannot of course be shown. It must be suggested or implied. What baroque art conveys is an impression, an illusion of infinite space, of movement into boundless depths, by suggesting the existence of what finally remains unseen. Contrast of light and dark, or chiaroscuro, gives space particular qualities. It accentuates the illusion of depth, giving the objects depicted a greater sense of mass and weight while simultaneously heightening their three-dimensionality, making them appear to jump out of the picture frame, or in the case of sculpture or decoration, out of the immediate space that "contains" them. It gives the image dramatic possibilities that steady, even illumination precludes. Like the lighting in films, chiaroscuro in painting works directly upon the spectators' emotions.

It is possible to look at theater in the seventeenth century, particularly its embodiment on the stage, as a branch of the visual arts. The scene was framed and the actors were often described as "painting" their characters.And yet the success of the depiction depends in some sense on our believing in that being's presence. It hinges upon a painting's ability to get us to believe, not in the reality, but in the presence of what it depicts--the presence, for example, of a three-dimensional body within the surface of the painting, or of the infinite extensibility of the illusory pictorial space--if only in ghostly form.

At this, the baroque excels.

Jean Baptiste Lully

Jean Baptiste Lully

Italian born Jean-Baptiste Lully came from modest origins. After being introduced to music by the Franciscan friars of his hometown Florence, he was chosen to become the Italian tutor to the cousin of Louis XIV in 1646 and left his homeland for Paris, where he continued his musical education. Also known to have been an oustanding dancer, his first works were Mascarades. In 1652, age 20, Lully entered the service of the king, where he was immediately appointed compositeur de la musique instrumentale, possibly for his dancing skills, which he continuously showcased in the ballets performed at court. He was to become the king's favourite musician and started also the composition of vocal music. His collaboration with Molière enriched Lully's theatrical knowledge, particularly of the French dramatic repertory, and helped him to perfect, after initial doubts of the genre, his operatic composition techniques. In 1672 he became the director of the Académie Royale de Musique, where he premiered his first tragédie en musique in the following year which was even attended by the king himself. The king appointed him conseiller secrétaire du roi, for his outstanding performance skills, a distinction which meant he could be immediately ennobled. Lully died in 1687. As a violinist, dancer and actor himself he was able to control the accuracy of the instrumental ensemble, demonstrate the steps of ballets, show how a performer should make an entrance and move on stage, and display the attitudes they should adopt.
Lully created a new operatic genre in 1673 with Cadmus et Hermione. For the libretto the composer had turned to Philippe Quinault who devised an excellent solution to the major problem of the recitative. In the first place, he simplified and tightened the plot, stripping it of unnecessary episodes so as to keep the audience's interest constantly alive. Most of the verses, were written before being set to music, in particular all the texts for the recitatives; Lully used melodic, rhythmic and harmonic procedures to make them expressive. A rising or falling interval, a melisma or a dissonance judiciously underlining certain words could suggest an image or express an idea or sentiment.These passages were intended to drive the dramatic action forward, and superfluous ornamentation was excluded since it would have been detrimental to comprehension of the sung text, something to which the logically minded French audiences of the time were particularly attached. The vocal ensembles, most of them duets, show equal sensitivity, allowing the hearer to appreciate both words and music. Dances also can be found in the operas mainly Minuets and gavottes, surely in greater number than bourrées, canaries, gigues, loures, passepieds, rigaudons and sarabandes.
The influence of Lully's work was considerable. The model of his tragédie en musique, the most successful in French opera under the ancien régime, was to inspire many composers for over a century. Lully's operatic works remained alive in the public's memory until the eve of the Revolution, inside and outside of France. Lully, regarded throughout Enlightenment Europe as the leading figure in French music, created a style which was truly his own, drawing on many sources which he was probably better able to assimilate than anyone else in his time. The language he forged, and to which he sometimes brought exceptional breadth, could leave no one indifferent, and it still attracts audiences today with its power, clarity, equilibrium, coherence, poetry and exquisite sensitivity.

Every star tells a Story

Every star tells a Story

Andromeda is the daughter of Cepheus and Cassiopeia, king and queen of the kingdom Ethiopia.  Perseus and Andromeda love each other, but Andromeda is betrothed to her uncle Phineus.

Cassiopeia boasts that she is more beautiful than the Nereids, the Nymph daughters of the sea god, Nereus. To punish the Queen for her arrogance, Poseidon, brother of Zeus and god of the sea, sends a sea monster to ravage the coast of Ethiopia including the kingdom of its vain Queen. The desperate King consults the Oracle of Apollo, who announces that no respite would be found until the king sacrifices his daughter Andromeda to the sea monster. She is chained to a rock on the coast line of the kingdom.

The drama is resolved only through Perseus’ triumph over supernatural obstacles. In a series of elaborate spectacles he is supplied by the gods with armour and weapons and slays the Gorgon Medusa of whose blood monsters were born.

Perseus returns from having slain the Gorgon, when he finds Andromeda tied to the rock as a sacrifice for the sea monster, which he slaughters, approaching invisible with Hades' helmet. He sets her free and marries her in spite of Andromeda having been previously promised to her uncle Phineus. At the wedding a quarrel takes place between the rivals, and Phineus is turned to stone by the sight of the Gorgon Medusa's head.
After their deaths, Andromeda and Perseus are placed by Athena amongst the Constellations in the northern sky, theire love to be immortalized for ever in the  heavenly skies.


Perseus with the head of Medusa

Illustration: Martin Butler 

Friday, 23 March 2012

Project Description

The Project

To celebrate the 400 year anniversary of the discovery of the Andromeda Galaxy by Simon Marius, Martin Butler and Ensemble L'Aura Rilucente are planning to create a new work based upon extracts from libretto and music of the popuar baroque opera, "Persée" by the 17th century composer, Jean Baptisite Lully, which tells the story of Andromeda and Perseus.

Working with a live ensemble of five baroque musicians, (two baroque violins, baroque cello, harpsichord, and baroque harp) and four singers (soprano, mezzo-soprano, haute – tenor and tenor ), Butler will tell the story of Perseus and Andromeda using the form of shadow play. They will combine live dancers/performers with objects and puppets, to create a visually strong and easily accessible form of performance for both children and adults to enjoy and discover.

 By seperating on stage the musicians and the performers, Martin Butler is inspired by the English theatre tradition of the dumbshow (15th to 17th centuries), which is a masque-like interlude of silent pantomime/actions usually with allegorical content. Dumbshows were a moving silent spectacle, accompanied by music.
The story of Perseus and Andromeda will be divided between a narrator and the shadow play accompanied by the singers. They explain the world, which the audience is going to enter. The world of the Baroque, the world of myths, where nymphs and sea monsters, gods and heroes exist. The arias will be song in the original French of Quinault, while the narrator will recite in the local language of the performance, accompanied by instrumental interludes. 

The original score of Lully will be abbreviated to a 75 minute performance. 

Perseus with the head of Medusa

stage construction behind

stage construction behind

Perseus and Andromeda- an opera for children

Andromeda and Perseus

A Baroque Opera for Children both Young and Old
by Martin Butler and Ensemble L'Aura Rilucente

Original premiere 17th April 1682, Paris Opera house
New Premiere 21st July 2012, Teatro Municipal, Almagro, Spain

Composer: Jean Baptiste Lully
Libretto/Text Author: Philippe Quinault
Libretto Source: Ovid