Spine Tinglers: Benjamin Butterfield

butterfield.jpg Canadian tenor Benjamin Butterfield is the next musician to take part in the OM Spine Tingler Series. He as generously given three examples. In interests of not having too much of a good thing, Miss Mussel has decided to save the others for later. Here is Mr Butterfield’s answer to the Spine Tingler question.

The duet “Streams of pleasure ever flowing” from Handel’s Theodora between Theodora and her lover
Didymus.

I visited Glyndebourne to see my friend David Daniels perform in Peter Seller’s production of this extraordinary oratorio. This duet was staged where the two lovers were bound to two tables in a stark, white chamber surrounded by modern helmeted guards. They were being readied for execution by lethal injection. They were then inclined to a 45 degree angle and tubes were inserted into their veins connected to three cylinders of liquid each. As the duet progressed the cylinders began to empty their contents slowly one after the other representing the musical ABA form of the duet.

By the end of the last cylinder of liquid the two lovers were singing so quietly and the orchestra was playing even more quietly that a single breath by any audience member would have infiltrated this most intimate of moments. And then they died and the orchestra played out the rest of the duet to nothing. Never have I experienced a theater full of people so emotionally stunned into total stillness. That was a good day.

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