Divine Rapture

A theatrical incantation of 17th-century songs and contemporary dance.

The programme title ‘Divine Rapture’ is derived from a three-stanza poem by 17th-century poet Francis Quarles (1592-1644). This poem reappears in an elongated form in his best-selling Emblems (1635) which includes hundreds of pages of illustrations and meditative verse. The poem itself (perhaps best known today through the musical setting by Benjamin Britten) is in many ways reminiscent of the sumptuous language and imagery of the biblical Song of Songs (which is indeed oft-quoted in Emblems), and speaks of the love of Christ in a highly personal manner. The programme is intended to be a personal incantation on the advent, life, and passion of Christ. It is the current idea to link the musical selections with images and verses from Quarles’s Emblems.

Divine Rapture is intended to be performed completely acoustically, with a small continuo section, and minimal technical and lighting requirements. Moreover, it can be designed to fit a variety of performing venues.

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“Whether on its own (notably highlighting the concert) or as a poetic amplification of the musical discourse, dance proves omnipresent . . . but at the same time highly evocative.”

“. . . the stylish singing of this suave and penetrating haute-contre works wonders.”

“The vocal prowess does not cease to fascinate, as, with closed eyes, we are incapable of knowing when the body is leaping or writhing on the floor in one of those acrobatic positions that opera singers dread, yet, in this instance, never affect the performance of the singer.”

Photos by Maïlis Snoeck.

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