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Tue 8 Dec 2015, 7:30pm–10:00pm
Wed 9 Dec 2015, 7:30pm–10:00pm
Thu 10 Dec 2015, 7:30pm–10:00pm
Fri 11 Dec 2015, 7:30pm–10:00pm
Sat 12 Dec 2015, 7:30pm–10:00pm

Where: Theatre Works, 14 Acland Street, St Kilda East, Victoria

Restrictions: All Ages

Ticket Information:

  • Full: $35.00
  • Concession: $25.00
  • Preview: $20.00
  • Additional fees may apply

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Listed by: Theatre Works

Presented by Theatre Works and Present Tense.

World Premiere
Selected Works 2015

The ordered artistry of JS Bach meets the explosive energy and mania of contemporary theatre. Ricercar is a 21st century operatic event created, crafted and composed for Theatre Works. Pop violin and drums duo, The Twoks have joined the maverick and inspired Present Tense Ensemble to create a vivid celebration of life, death, love, memory and legacy.

Ricercar unites a remarkable ensemble of artists including the electric Xani Kolac and Mark Leahy (The Twoks), Melbourne music legend Rosie Westbrook, visual artist Jennifer Tran, lighting designer Richard Vabre, opera singers Shauntai Batzke and Simon Gilkes, actors Laura Burzacott and Daniel Han. Ricercar is created and directed by Nathan Gilkes and Bryce Ives (Present Tense), two artists who have a growing reputation for producing surprising and substantial experiences for audiences, artists and communities around Australia and increasingly across the globe.

An intense live music performance composed to be seen, heard and experienced inside and outside of Theatre Works, all elements of Ricercar - music, design and choreography - are designed based on loops, number and patterns. The collaboration between mathematics and music fuels a sensory and mysterious adventure for the audience. Bach’s notion that restrictions create freedom has led Present Tense to compose a 96-minute operatic experience, presented in twelve movements.

In researching and composing Ricercar, Gilkes and Ives became fascinated by the mathematical genius of Bach, and the story behind the composition of one of Bach’s most complex pieces of music: a six voiced fugue entitled Ricercar A6. Fredrick the Great gave JS Bach an impossible single musical theme, 21 notes in length and the challenge laid down to the composer was immense: improvise this theme into a musical fugue, live and without preparation.

The fugue is the most complex form of music using counterpoint. In reality few musicians can compose with this sort of complexity, and fewer yet can improvise a complex fugue live on the spot. On the night that Fredrick the Great met Bach, the great composer achieved the impossible: he improvised a three-voice fugue on the spot, which simply put is beyond impressive. Two weeks later he composed a six-voice fugue using the same theme, which is genius. This story and music is the beginning point of Ricercar.

Collaborating artists: Shauntai Batzke, Laura Burzacott, Aubrey Flood, Nate Gilkes, Simon Gilkes, Daniel Han, Karen Ireson, Bryce Ives, Xani Kolac, Mark Leahy, Tammy Marshall, David McNamara, Emma Roberts, Jennifer Tran, Richard Vabre, Rosie Westbrook.

This project has been supported by the City of Port Phillip through the Cultural Development Fund & Creative Victoria.

Warnings: Haze and complete darkness at times

Duration: Approx. 2.5 hours with interval

Preview: Tue 24 Nov, Thu 26 Nov, Sat 28 Nov, Sun 29 Nov, Tue 1 Dec $20