ludi scaenici - music and dance of the ancient rome




In 364 BC, Rome was afflicted by a terrible pestilence. In order to appease the anger of the Gods, LVDI SCÆNICI were created which featured "Ludiones" (Etruscan dancers and actors) who "dancing to the sound of tibias without singing themselves and without miming the meaning of the song, moved, not without grace, in the Etruscan manner" (Livy VII, 2). This was the first example of a musical performance on the ancient Roman scene not tied to ritual, theatre or circus.


The group LVDI SCÆNICI was founded by Cristina Majnero and Roberto Stanco (curricula in italian language) who have been doing research on this subject for many years, collaborating with, among others, Dr. A. M. Liberati, director of the Museo della Civiltà Romana (Roman Civilisation Museum) in Rome. They have also composed the music for the CD-ROM "Viaggio virtuale nell'antica Roma" (Virtual trip through Ancient Rome) by "Altair 4 Multimedia", edited by Mondadori New Media. It has win the critics special mention of the "Festival International Multimedia - 8° Prix Mobius 2000" at the Centre Pompidou in Paris. With Quinto Fabriziani they have composed the music for the sonorization of the ancient roman part in the Chieti Museum.

LVDI SCÆNICI had play in Italy, France, Spain and Switzerland. The group plays among other places in "Tarraco Viva" 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003 e 2004 for Museum of History of Tarragona", in "La musica a traves de los siglos" for "Centro de Historia" in Saragozza and at the "III Festival romano de Andelos" always in Spain. They have performed also in "Terra di Storia" at Borgoricco (Padova), in "Forme Etrusche" for the "Sapientia - Ass. Cult. Marcello Creti" in Sutri (Viterbo), for the Archeological Museums in Chieti and for the Archeological and Etnographic Museum in Modena, where they have make some conferences-concerts. They performed in romans amphitheatres as Roselle (Grosseto), Carsulae and Ocricolum (Terni) and in archeological areas like Ostia antica (Roma), Tridentum (Trento), Bliesbruck and Le Fa in France. They had play at "Augusta Raurica" (Augst) in 2002, 2003, 2004 (Switzerland) and for the C.R.A.M. (Center of Archo-Musical Reserch) at Montalto di Castro (Viterbo). They have collaborated with the University of Tarragona and with the University "La Sapienza" in Rome.

In 2001 has issued by Minstrel editions "E TEMPORE EMERGO" the first CD of the group. The music of this CD has been selected in 2003 for "Tarraco" a DVD talking about the history of Tarragona, made by the UNESCO.


The music, the musical instruments, the dance

No musical fragments exist at all but there is plenty of existing material available for the study of the musical culture in the ancient Roman times.We are lucky that a few musical instruments of the period have survived and there is an abundance of figurative illustrations of wind, percussion, string, hydraulic and bellow instruments. This material together with descriptions by Latin authors has enabled us to reconstruct these instruments and therefore allow us to here their sounds and combinations. Some of these instruments are still being used in various regions of the Mediterranean, Africa and the Middle East - a living testimony to the artistic and cultural exchanges that occurred then as they continue to do so today.

We also have a vast amount of images available in ceramics, frescoes and mosaics of dance, with dancers held in suggestive poses typical of the period, often they are depicted holding small musical instruments such as cymbals or crotales. We are able to produce a plausible choreography thanks to the large number of image that in some cases are like representations of dance sequences.

Costumes and accessories

Particular care has been taken in the choice of materials, colours and accessories for the costumes that LUDI SCÆNICI use in their performances. Natural fibres are used and enriched with accessories reproducing jewellery and footwear, therefore producing in the most suggestive way ancient Roman image on stage.

The show

In its concert version, the group LUDI SCÆNICI is composed by five musicians and two dancers. Several musical instruments are introduced during the performance of several pieces that alternate music and dance with solo pieces for individual instruments. The make-up, construction, intonation, use and technique of the principle instruments are discussed.

In some pieces, texts of the era are recited in Latin.







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