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Calamity/Billy

A new two-part music theatre project about two iconic figures of the American wild west: Calamity Jane and Billy the Kid.

Gavin Bryars composer
Jean Lacornerie director
Gérard Lecointe music director
Michael Ondaatje libretto 

Calamity/Billy pairs two works exploring infamous American outlaws. It is an intimate double portrait, stripping back urban legend to a very private view of the figures.

The first part is Calamity Jane to her Daughter, a setting of Calamity Jane’s letters by American composer Ben Johnston. The second is a newly commissioned work by Gavin Bryars, adapting author Michael Ondaatje’s ( The English Patient ) The Collected Works of Billy the Kid. Both pieces stray away from usual narratives, focusing on the personal and the secret instead of daredevil antics. They both also play with reality and fiction. It’s now known that Calamity Jane’s letters are remarkable forgeries and in his book, Ondaatje plays masterfully with true and false; creating fake documents while slipping in true accounts.

For the Various Stages Festival we’ll be workshopping Gavin Bryars’s The Collected Works of Billy the Kid with Bertrand Belin, Claron McFadden and Les Percussions Claviers de Lyon in Lyon. On the festival day, the presentation will include video excerpts and an interview with creative team members Gavin Bryars, Jean Lacornerie and Gérard Lecointe. 

Performance forces:  2 singers (soprano, baritone) and small ensemble (5 percussion, violin)

Calamity/Billy  is produced by Théâtre de la Croix-Rousse (Lyon), Théâtre de la Renaissance (Oullins Lyon Métropole) and Muziektheater Transparant in co-production with Les Percussions Claviers de Lyon, Operadagen Rotterdam and Concertgebouw Brugge. 

About the artists' work


"The new songs are terrific; bright, breezy, witty – the sound of life, the essence of the OverWorld." 
The Arts Desk  on Gavin Bryars's  OverWorlds & UnderWorlds  with Opera North

 
A double portrait of two infamous American outlaws: Billy the Kid and Calamity Jane.
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