Dido & Aeneas… in Space! (with Vampires). You heard me.

Posted by Bret Mulligan on April 06, 2009
Classical Tradition / Comments Off
Scene from the Wooster Group's "La Didone"

Scene from the Wooster Group's "La Didone"; Photo: Paula Court

Today’s New York Times reviews an…. unusual new production of the story of Dido and Aeneas that fuses “La Didone”, the 1641 opera by Francesco Cavalli (with a libretto by Giovan Francesco Busenello), with the live acting-out of “Terrore Nello Spazio” (released here as “Planet of the Vampires”), a 1965 film about space zombies from the cult director Mario Bava.

…When the show begins, we learn simultaneously of Aeneas’ arrival in Carthage by tempest-tossed seas (described in song by the vengeful goddess Juno, played by Kamala Sankaram) and the crash landing on the planet Aura by spaceships (with images from Mr. Bava’s movie on monitors).

Two ships, two sets of captains and crews, two alien lands in which it’s all too easy to get lost….This means that the lush-voiced Ms. Chinn will suddenly switch from an aria about the torments of passion to the parenthetical (and monotonal) delivery of a line about having seen a horrible space monster, and then back to florid song.

The NYT review includes three audio excerpts, as well as a slideshow depicting the futuristic set, costumes, and, yes, vampires. (h/t Courtney and Rachel).

Geometric Iliad?

Posted by Bret Mulligan on February 05, 2009
General / 1 Comment

Throughout our discussion of the Iliad, we have noticed how earlier scenes create frameworks for understanding later scenes, and how often later scenes comment on or revise earlier scenes. Cedric Whitman, in the Homer and the Heroic Tradition, connected this patterning to the elaborate artistic aesthetic of Homer’s time, which is often called the Geometric Age for the intense, geometric patterning painted onto objet d’art and especially vases, as the one shown below.

Although the refinement of the patterning he detects perhaps overstates the phenomenon in Homer (depicted below), it shows the extent of architectural patterning that can be perceived in the Iliad.

Continue reading…

Meter Worksheet: Odyssey Proem

Posted by Bret Mulligan on January 31, 2009
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Here is a link to a handout with the proem to the Odyssey. Be sure to scan it before you start memorizing the proem for your next recitation. 


Recitation: Odyssey Proem (a.1-11)

Posted by Bret Mulligan on January 31, 2009
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Here are two recitations of the proem of the Odyssey.

The first reads the proem slowly, with strong attention to meter. This help you with your scansion of the proem:

The second reads the proem more naturally, maintaining the rhythm while paying more attention to meaning and emphasis:

You will notice that the Odyssey‘s proem is longer and contains more explicit soundplay than that found in the Iliad.

Recitation: Iliad Proem (A.1-7)

Posted by Bret Mulligan on January 23, 2009
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I have made a recording to help you practice your performance of the Proem of the Iliad.

You will notice that I pay more attention to meter (and metrical ictus) than the natural word accents in the Greek.

Stephen Daitz (City University of New York) is an advocate of the “restored” style of pronunciation, which in addition to different pronunciations of letters treats word accent as tone. You can listen to his rendition of Iliad A.1-52 here.

Xairete Homeridae!

Posted by Bret Mulligan on December 22, 2008
General / 2 Comments

Course Description: As we develop fluency in reading Homeric Greek verse, we will learn to appreciate the stylistic features that make this poetry distinctive and oral rather than written; and to get to know the Iliad as a complex epic narrative.

We will read several books in Greek and the remainder in English. We will pay close attention to the function of Homer’s distinctive style, as well as Homer’s characterization of Achilles, Hector, and other major and minor figures, as well as to the role of fate and divine intervention in the human sphere.

Prerequisites: The equivalent of three semesters of college-level Greek.