Musica Secreta and Celestial Sirens
with SARAH DUNANT, NIAHM CUSACK and DEBORAH FINDLAY
Directed by Nick Renton
A vibrant and compelling mix of visual drama, spoken word and live music, Sacred Hearts, Secret Music conjures the atmosphere of a sixteenth-century convent, where the tranquility of centuries is suddenly threatened by internal divisions and spiritual scandal. A young girl is sent to the convent against her will, and her unhappiness sets in train events that have the power to destabilise an entire way of life. Serafina is blessed with the voice of an angel, but her struggle against enclosure is anything but holy…
Dramatic readings from Sarah Dunant’s best-selling novel, Sacred Hearts are combined with music from Musica Secreta’s award-winning CD, Sacred Hearts, Secret Music, and the performance intuitively uses the spaces and sounds offered by unique church and cathedral venues. The searing, otherworldy chants of ancient holy offices are interwoven with the action, and the convent choir – played by Celestial Sirens – sing polyphony by two of the greatest masters of the sixteenth century, Cipriano de Rore and Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina.
Performances took place at the 2009 London Literature Festival at the South Bank, and in 2010 at the Brighton Festival Fringe, East Cork Early Music Festival, Leamington Music, and the Chester Literature Festival. 2011 saw performances at Latitude Festival, Manchester Literature Festival and the Brighton Early Music Festival. The last run concluded at Bath Literature Festival in March 2012.