LUDUS DANIELIS ("The play of Daniel")

A medieval mystery play

LUDUS DANIELIS is the title of a 1994/95 musical theater production, which came into being out of a suggestion from musician Michael Popp. The Theater der Klaenge adapted the staging of LUDUS DANIELIS to the music of the ensemble Estampie, which itself went back to a 1230 original script written by monks of the closter of Beauvais (F), and which in those days was presumedly performed every year at the New Year's Fest.

Europe of the Middle Ages witnessed the rebirth of theater in the churches. Out of the wish to portray biblical themes pictorially and with movement, were composed many different mystery plays of Testament subjectmatter, in which music was first applied to text from the Bible, following which the respective storylines were acted out along the sung out text.

LUDUS DANIELIS takes on a very special role in the musical creations of the Middle Ages. It represents in many respects an interesting example of a musical type, which in those days bore names such as ordo, ludus, versus, historia or miraculum. It dealt with nothing less than the first try since antiquity, to merge acting and music- the invention so to speak of Opera in the medieval world. The entire spectrum of medieval songs written for one voice is used, gregorian melodies, folk-like songs, rythmic dance instrumental music, as well as straightforward recitatives, continuing the action. The band ESTAMPIE from Muenich, which specialises in ancient music, has, as per the medieval musical conception, allocated to the leading roles specific instruments, which also provide the rhythm for the dance.

Contrarily to the then customary, very expensive performance practice, the Theater der Klaenge has concentrated itself on a church play which translates the sung text into acting and dance. On the basis of the closeness of the subject matter to the Orient (Babylonia, Persia ca. 600 B-C), the Theater der Klaenge allowed itself to be inspired by indian stage dance. The middle-age "Spielleute" ("playpeople") were included in the LUDUS DANIELIS in order to make the material not only biblically authentic but also performable. These actors appear between each (dance- and music-) act, in order to comment on the play, or parody it, or even put it in question in their very earthly manner .

The staging by Theater der Klaenge in collaboration with ESTAMPIE at the turn of the year 1994/95 in the "Duesseldorfer Kreuzherrenkirche" church was a great public success. Since then the piece has had guest performances in new places (mostly churches) , 30 very successful presentations for a total of approximately 8000 viewers, eventually becoming part of the Theater der Klaenge repertoire. It was also performed collaboratively with the band ESTAMPIE, as well as with our play "Die Vögel" ("The Birds"), by invitation at "Salonika, cultural capital of Europe" in 1997. At the same time had begun a study of non european dance forms, the groundwork for the development of the dances in the following production "Die Vögel" (The birds).

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