The Canadian premiere of Oh Death, Rock Me Asleep will be at the Oak Bay United Church Saturday, Feb. 9.
Oh Death, Rock Me Asleep is a musical about the shared struggles and triumphs of Catherine of Aragon and Anne Boleyn. Performed by the New York City ensemble Tenet Vocal Artists, the world premiere is in New York Thursday. It then flies across the continent to Victoria for Saturday’s show.
“Catherine and Anne are usually depicted as enemies or as two forces that cannot co-exist,” said Vancouver mezzo-soprano, Debi Wong, who will portray Boleyn. “This concert, however, is not about exploiting their differences, but showing the audience how similar their lives were, especially the challenges they faced because of their gender.”
Aragon and Boleyn were King Henry VIII’s first two wives. Henry’s divorce from Catherine led to the establishment of the Church of England. Boleyn was his second of six wives before she was beheaded after three years of marriage.
Bill Jamieson is the executive director of the Ancient Music Society of Victoria, the group that helped bring the show to Victoria alongside Wong. Although the society is a non-profit and doesn’t usually handle these types of projects, they volunteered some co-ordinating so the show could be performed at the church.
“They’re iconic women from that period in history and their presence in that history certainly had a profound impact on England and the rest of the world,” Jamieson said. “What was it like to be a woman in those times in those positions of power and powerlessness? It’s an intriguing angle to pursue. Of course, it’s not a history lesson, it’s a musical concert.”
And the concert will be an intimate one.
Jamieson said there will only be four performers on stage at any given time. It will feature baroque-styled music that would have been contemporary to the era. Although he hasn’t seen the show, Jamieson understands that there will be some historical context given between pieces.
The show starts at 7:30 p.m. and tickets are available at Ivy’s Bookshop, Munro’s Books, or at ticketstonight.ticketforce.com/ohdeath. Tickets are $24.