Newsletter no 10: Tenor Christopher Lemmings – Le Dit des Jeux du Monde by Arthur Honegger – Roxani Eleni Garefalaki

by Elizabeth Mucha

I’m over the moon that tenor Christopher Lemmings has agreed to join us for Art Sung-Jane Bathori at the London Song Festival.  Christopher and I were students together at GSAMD back in the day! It’s a great pleasure to be working with him again.

He is rarely heard these days in the UK as he has forged a very impressive international career for himself. He has a particular leaning towards the genres of the 20th and 21st century and has worked with some of the leading composers of our day, in many instances creating roles that were written for him. Renowned for his versatility, he will take on the role of many characters who inhabited Jane Bathori’s world including the theatre director Jacques Copeau, who entrusted her with the management of the Théatre du Vieux Colombier while he went to America to promote French theatre in 1917. He will be singing songs by two composers of Les Six, the most well-known, Francis Poulenc, and the ‘forgotten’ composer, Louis Durey. He makes an appearance as Bathori’s husband, the operatic French tenor Emile Engel, and the charismatic composer Reynaldo Hahn who sent Bathori music from the front.

Although Bathori was renowned in her time as a singer who, in the words of Louis Durey, “premiered or interpreted so to speak all the contemporary vocal music, without expecting anything in return, put her immense talent at the service of youth. She opened to us the doors of the Théâtre du Vieux Colombier which she rented to make music there. All our first works were born there”, there was another side to her, deeply interested in contemporary literature and theatre, especially the revolutionary work of French director Jacques Copeau.

At the beginning of her second season at the Vieux Colombier in 1918, she commissioned an evening’s entertainment, “Le Dit des Jeux du Monde”, from the Belgian writer Paul Méral and the composer Artur Honegger. It was neither a ballet nor musical theatre, but a combination of both, and at its heart, true to Copeau’s vision, was movement and gesture. Although fundamentally Art Sung – Jane Bathori is a song recital, this was such an important happening on the Parisian cultural scene and, also, deeply symbolic of the artistic vision she shared with Copeau, that we felt it was necessary to present something from this spectacle.

I’m delighted that Roxani Eleni Garefalaki will be performing in this short extract. Roxani has been the stage director for all the Art Sung productions up till now, including this one, but this will give us all an opportunity to enjoy her skills and talents as a physical theatre performer.

To see a short taster of our new production we invite you to watch a short video which we created during lockdown thanks to a research grant from the Royal Northern College of Music.

Due to unforeseen circumstances, we regret that Olivia Ray is unable to take part in the concert on 10th December at the London Song Festival and we are very grateful to Lorena Paz Nieto, who sang in both Art Sung – Alma Mahler and Art Sung – Clara Schumann for stepping in at short notice.

Elizabeth MuchaNewsletter no 10: Tenor Christopher Lemmings – Le Dit des Jeux du Monde by Arthur Honegger – Roxani Eleni Garefalaki