The Bacchae

Modern productions

Dramatic versions

  • Joe Orton's play The Erpingham Camp (television broadcast 27 June 1966; opened at the Royal Court Theatre on 6 June 1967) relocates The Bacchae to a British holiday camp. An author's note states: "No attempt must be made to reproduce the various locales in a naturalistic manner. A small, permanent set of Erpingham's office is set on a high level. The rest of the stage is an unlocalised area. Changes of scene are suggested by lighting and banners after the manner of the Royal Shakespeare Company's productions of Shakespeare's histories."[14]
  • In 1970, Brian De Palma filmed Richard Schechner's dramatic re-envisioning of the work, Dionysus in 69, in a converted garage.[15]
  • Wole Soyinka adapted the play as The Bacchae of Euripides: A Communion Rite with the British Royal National Theatre in London in 1973, incorporating a second chorus of slaves to mirror the civil unrest in his native Nigeria.[16]
  • Caryl Churchill and David Lan used the play as the basis of their 1986 dance-theatre hybrid A Mouthful of Birds.
  • In 1989 Costas Ferris adapted The Bacchae for his film Oh Babylon and retells it in a more modern guise.
  • Andre Gregory related in My Dinner With Andre that he put on a production at Yale University and campaigned to have a real cadaver's head used for Pentheus', but the actress playing Agave refused.
  • The Bacchae 2.1, a theatrical adaptation set in modern times, was written by Charles Mee and first performed in 1993.[17]
  • Swedish director Ingmar Bergman directed The Bacchae three times: as an opera (1991) for the Royal Swedish Opera, as a film (1993) for Sveriges Television, and on stage (1996) for the Royal Dramatic Theatre in Stockholm. These three versions received great acclaim amidst some mixed reviews.[18]
  • In 1997, Brad Mays directed his own adaptation of the play at The Complex in Los Angeles, where it broke all box office records and was nominated for three LA Weekly Theater Awards:[19] for Best Direction, Best Musical Score and Best Production Design. Because it featured levels of violence and nudity rare for even experimental theater, it was widely discussed in print,[20] and even videotaped for the Lincoln Center's Billy Rose Theatre Collection in New York.[21] The production was eventually made into an independent feature film[22] which featured Will Shepherd[23] – the Pentheus of Richard Schechner's Dionysus in '69 – as Cadmus. Both the stage and film versions were produced by Mays' wife, Lorenda Starfelt.
  • On 20 April 2003 BBC Radio 3 premiered the radio play Dionysos – a ninety-minute drama based on The Bacchae – written by Andrew Rissik and starring Chiwetel Ejiofor, with Paul Scofield as Cadmus and Diana Rigg as Agave.[24] It was repeated on BBC Radio 7 in May 2008.
  • In 2004, KneeHigh Theatre company toured a reinvented version of The Bacchae as "A contemporary postmodern folk tale", directed by Emma Rice.
  • In 2007, David Greig wrote an adaptation of The Bacchae for the National Theatre of Scotland starring Alan Cumming as Dionysus, with ten soul-singing followers in place of the traditional Greek chorus. A critically praised run at New York's Lincoln Center Rose Theater followed the premiere in Scotland.[25]
  • Luigi Lo Cascio's multimedia adaptation La Caccia (The Hunt) won the Biglietto d' Oro del Teatro prize in 2008. The free adaptation combines live theater with animations by Nicola Console and Desideria Rayner's video projections. A revised 2009 version went on tour with original music by Andrea Rocca.
  • In 2008, James Thomas directed Peter Arnott's faithful and audience-friendly translation of The Bacchae as part of MacMillan Films series on Greek drama. The production featured Mia Perovetz as Dionysus, a traditional Greek chorus with Morgan Marcum as the chorus leader and the dance choreography of Angessa Hughmanick.
  • In 2017, Madeleine George's adaptation Hurricane Diane premiered at Two River Theater. Hurricane Diane places the narrative in Monmouth, New Jersey, where Dionysus becomes Diane, a butch landscaper who schemes to install permaculture gardens in suburban backyards, and convince four women to start a "mystery cult" in order to regain her powers and fight climate change.[26][27]
  • In 2020, the Classics department of King's College London performed a version of The Bacchae in its original ancient Greek in combination with Aristophanes' The Frogs, created by David Bullen and entitled Dionysus in the Underworld for their annual Greek play,[28] which is the only production of Greek drama in the UK staged annually in the original language.[29]

Operatic versions

  • In 1941–1944, Giorgio Federico Ghedini composed an opera in Italian based on The Bacchae and called Le Baccanti, with libretto by playwright and screenwriter Tullio Pinelli. It debuted at La Scala in Milan on February 22, 1948. It was revived in Milan in 1972.[30]
  • Harry Partch composed an opera based on The Bacchae titled Revelation in the Courthouse Park. It was first performed in 1960, and a recording was released in 1987.
  • Another opera based on The Bacchae, called The Bassarids, was composed in 1965 by Hans Werner Henze. The libretto was by W. H. Auden and Chester Kallman.
  • John Buller composed an opera Bakxai (The Bacchae) which was produced at the English National Opera in London in 1992. The Libretto was in ancient Greek.[31]
  • Georgia Spiropoulos composed a solo opera for performer, electronics and lights called Les Bacchantes. The work premiered at Ircam during the 2010 Agora Festival, starring Médéric Collignon.
  • Karol Szymanowski's second opera King Roger is based on The Bacchae.
  • Daniel Börtz' opera Backanterna (Swedish for the Bacchae) is based on The Bacchae. The opera premiered at the Royal Swedish Opera in Stockholm in 1991. The music was used in Ingmar Bergman's 1993 TV opera film.[32]

Musical versions

  • Gustav Holst's "Hymn to Dionysus" (Op. 31, No. 2) is a setting for female voices and orchestra of the parodos from The Bacchae in the translation by Gilbert Murray. It was composed in 1913 and premiered in 1914.[33]
  • In Fall 2007, Prospect Theater Company put on The Rockae, a rock musical adaption of the show written by Peter Mills & Cara Reichel
  • In Summer 2009, the Public Theater (of New York City) produced a version of The Bacchae with music by Philip Glass.
  • In Fall 2013, the Globe Theatre produced a musical adaptation of The Bacchae, The Lightning Child, written by Ché Walker.[34] Music was scored by Arthur Darvill.[35]

Film versions

  • In 1961 Italian filmmaker Giorgio Ferroni directed his own adaptation of the tragedy as Le baccanti, with French actor Pierre Brice as Dionysus, Italian actors Alberto Lupo and Miranda Campa respectively as Pentheus and Agave, Finnish actress-dancer Taina Elg as Dirce, and Russian actor Akim Tamiroff as Tiresias. American choreographer Herbert Ross directed the bacchantes' dance sequences.
  • In 1970 American filmmaker Brian De Palma and theater director Richard Schechner filmed the stage adaptation Dionysus in '69, performed by members of The Performance Group, an experimental theater group in New York that would later become The Wooster Group.
  • IMDb lists at least five adaptations made for television.

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