This February, the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra will commemorate eight centuries of music performed within Notre Dame de Paris for the first concert series of 2024, Notre-Dame, at the Melbourne Recital Centre and Sydney’s City Recital Hall.
In the world premiere of this moving theatrical celebration, spoken word penned by Helpmann Award-winning playwright and director Alana Valentine is brought to life by the acclaimed Australian Brandenburg Orchestra and Brandenburg Choir, alongside two actors.
A debut production curated by Paul Dyer and written and directed by Alana Valentine, Notre-Dame is centred around an evocative libretto performed by two actors, supported by orchestral and choral music from the archives of the cathedral’s rich history.
The idea for the concert series emerged from a meeting between Dyer and Valentine back in 2019, who were together when they first heard of news of the fire that would partially consume the Notre-Dame de Paris. In 2021, Valentine’s libretto Notre-Dame received the Australian Writers’ Guild Award for Best Script for a work of Musical Theatre.
“My libretto Notre-Dame is the story of a female engineer who travels to Paris to work on the in-progress restoration of the iconic cathedral, on the very day that after nearly one thousand years of existence, this world heritage site is almost burnt to the ground,” said playwright and director, Alana Valentine.
“Metaphorically it speaks of the cathedral as the work of a century of artists and musicians, of its poetry, music and faith as global gifts to humanity.”
“I hope the lyricism and narrative emotion of this work, with Paul’s perceptive and clever weaving of French music throughout, will entertain, inspire and speak to our collective spirit of resilience and hope as unstoppable forces for good,” said Valentine
Transporting audiences through 800 years of history, production design by Sean Bacon sees four large screens in the shape of church windows rise above the stage, onto which historical images and footage are projected. Trent Suidgeest also joins the creative team as Lighting Designer.
Repertoire highlights include the world premiere of l’aube by living Australian composer Hugh Ronzani and the Australian premiere of Introite from Messe de Requiem by 18th century French composer André Campra. The latter was composed during Campre’s time as the director of music at Notre-Dame from 1694 to 1700.
“The cathedral on the Île de la Cité has been an epicentre of musical innovation and choral transcendence since the first stone was laid, and its enduring spirit deserves to be celebrated,” said Co-founder and Artistic Director, Paul Dyer.
“Four years since the idea for this production was sparked between Alana and I, and with the actual physical restoration of the Notre-Dame underway, I am thrilled that we are finally able to bring this moving work to the stage,” said Dyer.
Director: Alana Valentine | Conductor: Paul Dyer | Featuring: Glenn Hazeldine, Matilda Ridgway, Australian Brandenburg Orchestra, Brandenburg Choir | Designer: Sean Bacon | Lighting Designer: Trent Suidgeest | Costume Designer: Genevieve Graham
Elisabeth Murdoch Hall – Melbourne Recital Centre, 31 Sturt Street, Southbank
Performances: 22 – 25 February 2024
City Recital Hall, Angel Place, Sydney
Performances: 27 February – 2 March 2024
For more information, visit: www.brandenburg.com.au for details.
Image: Notre Dame de Paris – photo by Huy Phan