‘A pleasingly original, high quality hour of music and drama – not quite a concert, not quite musical theatre and not quite an illustrated talk. Maybe Burnside has invented a new performance art form?‘ (Lark review, November 2017)
Iain Burnside presents SWANSONG, a new production for 2017, showcasing his acclaimed reimagining of music in a theatrical context alongside the brightest young actors and musicians.
SWANSONG is a story about Schubert’s final masterpiece, told by a singer, a pianist and 6 actors. An askew, sideways glance at this famous work, SWANSONG weaves a freshly-imagined spoken narrative into the 14 songs for a new generation of listeners. Fragmented yarns and memories, passions and unfulfilled desires mingle with Schubert’s glorious music, traversing centuries and continents as SWANSONG impinges upon the lives of six characters;
- IVOR GURNEY (1890-1937), the brilliant, difficult, strong willed, stroppy composer/poet incarcerated in City of London Asylum, locked up and forgotten for last 15 years of his life
- TOBIAS HASLINGER (1787-1842), a successful Viennese publisher, whose decision to bring these songs together resulted in Schwanengesang
- FRANZ VON SCHOBER (1796-1882), Schubert’s closest friend, the handsome, sexually successful life and soul of the party that Schubert could never be
- JOHANNES BRAHMS (1833-1897), too young to have known Schubert, but hero worships him beyond the grave; a testy North German with a Viennese chip on his shoulder.
- LIESL (1807-1846), Schubert’s laundry girl, doing her best to make ends meet and offering a mirror on 1820s Vienna and its social/sexual mores
- EMILY (1993- ), an elegant US grad student, visiting Vienna to research her thesis.
SWANSONG is wry, funny, poignant, bitter-sweet and thoughtful. As pianist, broadcaster, writer and director, Burnside draws on his lively imagination and deep understanding of Schubert’s work to shine a new light on the fear, despair and joy inherent in this collection of songs. It seems that no-body is left untouched by Schubert’s final farewell to gardens, cities, maidens and the stars…