Songs from Nightingale Alley is a new musical salon based on the lyrics of anonymous 19th century underground poets and minstrels - a cavalcade of saucy ballads, wicked parodies and raucous tavern songs. This is not the poetry of the refined and delicate but the salacious doggerel, and catcalls found in subversive broadsheets sold in back alleyways. The original melodies are long lost and so new melodies have been composed around them re-imagining them in a contemporary context. They are, for the most part, songs written by and about prostitutes. Which is hardly surprising!

It has been estimated that by 1820 in the city of London, (the economic capitol of the Industrial Revolution,) one in five woman was a prostitute or had dabbled in prostitution at some point in her life. Forced off the farms due to new economic realties and with no marriage prospects, a single woman was faced with some pretty bleak choices. Good paying legitimate jobs were practically nonexistent. In the great city of London, she could make on average 400 pounds a year as a prostitute, as a chambermaid maybe 6!

Such considerations and an emerging, albeit begrudging social acceptance of prostitution, (not unlike how our modern day porno industry is perceived,) contributed to a culture that both celebrated and condemned the woman of leisure. The prostitute became the lens through which the erotic was perceived, pursued and ultimately judged

These lyrics are over 200 hundred years old, yet they speak with a curiously modern voice and from a disarmingly compassionate female perspective. They stare deep into the erotic. They evoke the pleasures and delight of human sexual appetite, but also its perils. They gaze- eyes wide open - on the clash of social values, of heartache and despair and the darker more disquieting aspects of an emerging and rather brutal sexual economy!

Songs from Nightingale Alley is a musical conceived in the 'salon style' and is performed by three extraordinarily accomplished, feisty and charismatic Calgary singer/actors: Allison Lynch, Jamie Konchak, and Denise Clarke with musical accompaniment by pianist David Rhymer and violinist Jonathan Lewis.

Songs from Nightingale Alley had its first showcase June 9th 2012 at the Green Fools Studio in Calgary Canada for an invited audience of music and theatre producers and will have a three-week run this April at the Big Secret Theatre in Calgary, as part of the internationally acclaimed One Yellow Rabbit's 2013 season!

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