Maria Yerosimou

Analytical and Performative Approaches to Jani Christou’s Strychnine Lady

Jani Christou was a major composer, whose unusual yet promising career was brought to an end after his untimely death in 1970 at the age of 44. Christou brought into conjunction and in quite remarkable ways, especially in his late works, his deep immersion in philosophical and psychological studies, including the ideas of Carl Jung and alchemy, with avant-garde musical and dramatic materials and means. This paper aims to introduce, define and demonstrate Christou’s key concepts (praxis–metapraxis, proto-performance, patterns) through an analysis and interpretation of Strychnine Lady (1967). This work was included in a group of compositions which were described by the composer as stage-rituals and which aim, through the conception of ‘metapraxis’, to lead the performers and audience to a transcendental stage in order to communicate primeval and archetypal elements of the unconscious. The interdisciplinary nature of these works requires a special analytical approach which will be outlined in the present paper. Moreover, parts of Strychnine Lady will be analysed in order to present Christou’s compositional concepts as they are embodied in the graphic score of the work and in material found in the composer’s archive.