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Sixteenth-century sex and murder

Part-concert/part one-man play explores the extraordinary life and music of Carlo Gesualdo

Trish Lee

Reporter:

Trish Lee

Sixteenth-century sex and murder

BREAKING The Rules is a theatrical production not for the faint-hearted. Coming to Newbury as part of the Newbury Spring Festival (May 7-21), it is one of the goriest stories in the history of classical music. This new kind of part-concert/part one-man play explores the extraordinary life and music of Carlo Gesualdo. Born in the 16th century, the arrogant nobleman Gesualdo murdered his wife and her lover in the most brutal way. Throughout the play the seemingly fragile and neurotic composer relives his past and goes on to reveal the full horror of his actions. Gesualdo’s impending madness is all in stark contrast to his exquisite music.


The play is a collaboration between Clare Norburn, who wrote the dramatic monologue, and early music group The Marian Consort, who have always wanted to perform a concert of Gesualdo’s music. Norburn said: “I wanted to explore the man behind the music and what led him to commit the violent murder, for which he is so well remembered.”


The dark life and music of Gesualdo has been admired and studied by many over the centuries, including by iconic figures such as Igor Stravinsky and Frank Zappa. The director of the Marian Consort, Rory McCleery, said: “It’s exciting to show audiences how his music was shaped by the events of his life”.

Breaking the Rules will be performed at the Corn Exchange on Thursday, May 19. The performance for the festival is the first date of a tour that also includes Brighton Festival and Cambridge Summer Music Festival. For more information and tickets, visit www.newburyspringfestival.org.uk

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