In its most ambitious venture of recent years, the GCA proudly hosted The Latin Qvarter’s acclaimed production of The Song of Arms and a Man – a stunning performance of Virgil’s Aeneid – at Charterhouse on 5 October.
The Song of Arms and a Man tells the story of Aeneas’ escape from Troy, his stay with Dido and his struggle to fulfil his destiny as founder of Rome. The selected Latin readings from the Aeneid, with the help of an English narration, told the whole story of the poem, rarely heard, in a unique presentation of the original verse, echoing the ancient culture of public performance of poetry.
The event proved a tremendous success, exceeding all our expectations. The players: George Sharpley (narrator), Emma Kirkby, Victoria Punch (standing in at short notice for the indisposed Elizabeth Donnelly), Matthew Hargreaves, Llewellyn Morgan and Eileen Zoratti, assembled and the performance began. The audience was hushed and expectant as the piper, Callum Armstrong, got everyone’s attention. How exciting to hear a real aulos player! The English narrative beautifully echoed the original Latin and set the scene for the Latin extracts. It was entrancing seeing such well-known passages brought to life – acted out and performed in impressively fluent and expressive spoken Latin.
There was a real buzz during the interval while everyone enjoyed welcome refreshments before settling down to the emotional finale of the tale. All too quickly, the performance was over, bows and curtain calls were taken and the audience departed. As they left, we heard an amazing number of compliments on the production. The audience were obviously thrilled by the performance and very glad that they had come.