Dante’s Inferno: The Ballet (2014)

dantes-inferno-the-ballet“This new ballet traces Dante Alighieri’s journey through the nine levels of Hell in a chilling and beautiful tour-de-force of music, dance, striking masks, costumes, and choreography. With original music, masks, and sets created by Glenna Burmer, and music conducted by Grammy-award winner David Sabee and recorded at Studio X, this ballet is filled with exciting music, demonic dancing and wild choreography by the master Ronald Tice and Jennifer Porter.”    —Dante’s Inferno: The Ballet

Performances held February 21, 22, 23, 2014 at The Theatre at Meydenbauer Center (Bellevue, Washington).

Contributed By Gabrielle E. Orsi

Purgatory/Paradise by Throwing Muses

kristen-hersch-throwing-muses“The title of the first Throwing Muses record in a decade is Purgatory/Paradise, but frontwoman Kristin Hersh has another name for it. ‘Our pet name is Precious/Pretentious,’ she says with a laugh. Speaking from Aquidneck Island in Rhode Island, where she was raised, she says that while the title does not reference Dante – it’s actually a reference to an intersection of roads on the island – she’s happy to have escaped the inferno of making the album. ‘It took us five years to make this record and we are absolutely obsessed with it,’ she tells Rolling Stone.” [. . .]    –Kory Grow, Rolling Stone, November 29, 2013

Smetana, Sibelius, and the Dante Quartet

smetana-sibelius-and-the-dante-quartet“Though both Jean Sibelius and Bedrich Smetana are well-known for their contributions to the nationalistic movements in their respective countries, the semi-autobiographical quartets of both composers (two for Smetana, one for Sibelius) instead focus on dark, tragic aspects of their own lives. Smetana’s quartets highlight some of the positive events in his life, but are more a representation of the gradual march toward deafness and the decline of his career. Sibelius, who struggled with depression and isolation, writes an equally revealing depiction of his more private inner turmoil. Performing these three emotionally charged works is the equally emotive, demonstrative Dante Quartet. Conceptually, its playing is ideal for showing listeners the very raw emotions present in these scores.” [. . .]    –Mike D. Brownell, Allmusic

At Midnight with Andrew Kennedy and the Dante Quartet

ian-venables-at-midnight-songs-and-chamber-music“British composer Ian Venables, born in 1955, has been described as a songwriter in the tradition of Hubert Parry, Roger Quilter, Peter Warlock, and Gerald Finzi, and the comparison is apt. They were composers of modest talents, active generations before Venables; Parry, the earliest, died in 1918, and Finzi, the latest, in 1956. Venables’ music has much in common with the conservative English pastoralism that tended to characterize their work, and an informed listener unaware of the provenance of the music recorded here might reasonably place it early in the 20th century. It is skillfully written, and Venables has clearly invested it with deep feeling, so it should appeal to fans of post-Romantic English music.” [. . .]    —AllMusic

Hypo Chrysos: Xth Sense Technology

marco-donnarumma-hypo-chrysosHypo Chrysos (HC) is a work of action art for vexed body and biophysical media. During this twenty minutes action I pull two concrete blocks in a circle. My motion is oppressively constant. I have to force myself into accepting the pain until the action is ended. The increasing strain of my corporeal tissues produces continuous bioacoustic signals. The sound of the blood flow, muscle contraction bursts, and bone crackling are amplified, distorted, and played back through eight loudspeakers using the biophysical instrument Xth Sense, developed by the author. The same bioacoustic data stream excites an OpenGL-generated swarm of virtual entities, lights, and organic forms diffused by a video projector. The work brings together different media so a as to creatively explore the processes wherein self-perception, effort, and physicality collide. HC is freely inspired by the sixth Bolgia of Dante’s Inferno, located in one of the lowest of the circles of hell. Here, the poet encounters the hypocrites walking along wearing gilded cloaks filled with lead. It was Dante’s punishment for the falsity hidden behind their behaviour; a malicious use of reason which he considered unique to human beings.” [. . .]    —Marco Donnarumma

Boris Tischenko: Dante Symphony No. 4

boris-tischenkos-dante-symphony-no-4“The musical style and composing manner of Boris Tishchenko (1939 – 2010) shows him to be a typical representative of the Leningrad composers’ school. He was very much influenced by music of his teachers Dmitri Shostakovich and Galina Ustvolskaya, turning these influences in his own way. He tried to use some experimental and modernist ideas like twelve-tone or aleatoric techniques, but was much more attached to the native traditions of his homeland. He was honored by Shostakovich’s orchestration of his First Cello Concerto, and repaid his master by the orchestration, editing and transcription of a few scores by Shostakovich.”    —Avaxhome

Comic Biografías: Dante

In 1970, Comic Biografias’ Serie Arte featured Dante. Written by Juan Alonso.

Irena Lisiewicz’s Purgatorio Image Theatre

irena-lisiewiczs-purgatorio-image-theatreIrena Lisiewicz, a professional artist and costume and set designer, created a project entitled Purgatorio Image Theatre (2009-2013), inspired by Dante Alighieri’s The Divine Comedy. To learn more about Lisiewicz and her works, view her LinkedIn profile, a Slideshare of her project Purgatorio Image Theatre, and a Picasa Web Album of her artwork.

Students Chart Dante’s Lapidi in Florence

le-lapidi-dantesche-florence

Students of a school in Florence have charted the 33 stone inscriptions of Dante’s Divine Comedy throughout the historical center of Florence. La Reppublica details the project in “Le lapidi dantesche sbarcano su Google Earth,” November 23, 2013. To see the locations of the 33 lapidi, see here. (Note: you must first download Google Earth in order open the file).

“I Found Myself in a Dark Wood”

i-found-myself-in-a-dark-wood“ ‘In the middle of our life’s journey, I found myself in a dark wood.’ So begins one of the most celebrated and difficult poems ever written, Dante’s Divine Comedy, a more than 14,000-line epic on the soul’s journey through the afterlife. The tension between the pronouns says it all: Although the ‘I’ belongs to Dante, who died in 1321, his journey is also part of ‘our life.’ We will all find ourselves in a dark wood one day, the lines suggest. That day came six years ago for me, when my pregnant wife, Katherine, died suddenly in a car accident. Forty-five minutes before her death, she delivered our daughter, Isabel, a miracle of health rescued by emergency cesarean. I had left the house that morning at 8:30 to teach a class; by noon, I was a father and a widower.”    –Joseph Luzzi, The New York Times, December 18, 2013

Contributed by Janet E. Gomez

See also the New York Times review of Luzzi’s 2014 memoir, In a Dark Wood.

Contributed by Stephanie HotzUniversity of Texas at Austin