In an evocation of Euripides’ terrifying final play, Contemporaneous presents the world premiere of composer Dylan Mattingly’s The Bakkhai in a performance with narration by Thomas Bartscherer. Mattingly’s new work for four voices and just-tuned instrumental ensemble sets all seven choruses of Euripides’ tragedy, sung in ancient Greek.
Inspired by careful study of the lyrics and rhythmic structure of the choral odes in The Bakkhai, Mattingly’s driving rhythms are fueled by the complex patterns in the meter of Euripides’ text. The piece is also written in “just intonation,” the pure, organic method of tuning that would have been used in Athens in the fifth century B.C. In reimagining these aspects of the original sound of the choruses, Mattingly has created a work with a fresh and original sound within a deeply effective dramatic arch.
Providing dramatic context and bridges between choruses, Thomas Bartscherer’s new texts match Mattingly’s sense of adventure in recreating Euripides’ tragedy.