Moonstricken is a performance piece that I have probably been thinking about, in one way or another, since I was a student. For my final vocal recital at the Royal College of Music, I found myself drawn to the multitudes of ‘mad’ songs in classical repertoire, and the different depictions of women on the edge.
I was interested in what the ‘mad woman’ label may reveal about society more broadly – how free were women to express their thoughts and feelings, or to determine their own futures in general? Madness in these narratives so often seems to follow a doomed love affair, so was it a punishment for those who submitted to their romantic desires?
My Bloomsbury Festival performance is part theatrical performance piece, part art song recital, with a smattering of poetry readings for good measure. It takes inspiration from the binary definition of moonstricken in the dictionary:
moon·strick·en (mo͞on′strik ́ən)
1. Dazed or distracted with romantic sentiment.
2. Mentally deranged; crazy.
The performance traces a journey from love to madness, from innocence to ruin – all taking place under the watchful gaze of the moon.
I have woven together an eclectic selection of songs to tell this narrative, with composers including Brahms, Schubert, Hahn, Wolf, Purcell, Samuel Barber, Stephen Sondheim and Arvo Pärt. Some songs are gorgeously romantic, others are heartbreakingly poignant, and a few are downright crazy. I think it will be a good mixture and should hopefully make for an entertaining, and different, musical experience for the audience.
Vivien Conacher (mezzo soprano) will be performing alongside Chad Vindin (piano), Alexandra Lomeiko (violin) and Lisa Buckness (viola) at Lumen on 20 October at 6:30pm. Doors open from 6pm.