Cellist/vocalist/artist Melora Creager is creating a narrative musical work inspired by the madrigal songs of Thomas Weelkes, and informed by the theory that Weelkes was another artistic identity of Edward DeVere, 17th Earl of Oxford.
'Fa La La- The Bastardy of Shakespeare's Madrigals' is a song-cycle for 4 cellos, 3 voices, percussion, and digital looping.
Creager's alternative cello ensemble Rasputina channels Ladies-in-Waiting to Queen Elizabeth I, re-invents Early Music, and challenges concepts like classical/popular and true/false.
Weelkes published 65 songs within 3 years. Such a large, sudden output implies that the work was complete and “on file”. It is challenging music- beautiful, complex, and moving- all within a 2 minute song form. Weelkes' texts and dedications include complex puns, presumptuous comments to nobility, the originating of words, references to Shakespeare characters, inclusion in the Passionate Pilgrim, and a dead giveaway- falconry metaphor. Weelkes' negligible qualifications and nonexistent biography make him uniquely unqualified to have written the songs credited to him. Historians agree that the 'music of Shakespeare' is unknown. Creager believes that the Weelkes music could be 'scores' to early versions of the plays, even for the final “Shakespeare” plays themselves.
Fa La La also contains new music by Creager. The madrigals originated “word-painting”. By collaging lines from Shakespeare, original narrative, and DeVere's teenaged poetry, Creager creates “song-painting”-a bigger picture constructed from disparate, yet sympathetic sources- ultimately, the voices of QEI's Ladies in Waiting telling the story of how this music might have been created.
By referencing the Sumptuary Laws, Ovid's beauty advice, and horror-stories of Elizabethan hygiene, Creager includes her trademark black humor. On-stage use of iPads for music-reading makes for a space-aged elegance, while perilously high platform shoes tip the hat at DeVere's multitudinous Italian imports, and cello-bow sword-fighting is seen for the first time on any stage.
As Rasputina, Creager has been an originator for the cello in popular music. Rasputina has been sharing historical concepts with rock-music fans since it's inception in the 1990s.