Shannon Delijani, a senior in Thornton's Opera program, is teaming up with Artemis and Delta Kappa Alpha (DKA) to present "Lived and Loved," a multimedia performance of Robert Schumann's classic opera text, "Frauenliebe und Leben."
Delijani shares a bit about the creation of such a unique piece of work.
Can you tell us a little bit about the project?
"Lived and Loved" is a recital centered around the voices of three women in an art song who are depicted in wildly different lights depending on the context in which their stories were set to music. The recital features the premiere of a multimedia song cycle based around Schumann's "Frauenliebe und Leben," which translates to "a woman's life and love." The set is standard in the repertoire, and is notoriously problematic in its depiction of a woman's relationship with her husband. The poet and composer are both men, and they tell a story of a woman falling obsessively in love with a man who she describes as a godlike figure whom she is lucky to worship. The aim of our performance of the cycle is to use film to preserve the musical elements of the cycle that are so cherished, while giving the character more depth and agency by placing her in a modern context.
How did this project come to be?
I was first introduced to "Frauenliebe" in high school by a voice teacher who prefaced them by saying they were beautiful songs, but some of the text was better left ignored. Over the years, delving into the set more fully, I fell in love with the music, but I found it unsettling to perform the songs because of the message it conveys about the role of women in society. I had also been toying with the idea of using film to help bridge the language barrier that can be so challenging for people experiencing opera for the first time. This felt like a way to reclaim the narrative from an empowered female perspective, without sacrificing the artistic integrity of the music itself.
What made you want to reexamine this particular piece of music?
There is no one universal experience of womanhood, and yet so many times throughout history men have created art that claims to define "the female experience." I wanted to try to dismantle the idea that "Frauenliebe" is the story of womanhood, [and make it] instead the story of one woman grappling with her own experience.
How do you think having a film component enhances the meaning of the music?
I wasn't raised listening to classical music, and when I first started singing I felt a learning curve as an audience member in appreciating the art form. In making the film, we wanted to try to capture the musical elements with the visual component to help enhance the audience experience, and help new listeners better connect with the piece.
How was it working with Delta Kappa Alpha?
We were picked as a DKA semester-long film, which means that we got a grant from them, which was instrumental in making the project possible. Through DKA, I've found such incredible student mentors and collaborators such as my director, Miriam Sachs, who helped bring this vision to life.
What do you want people to know about your experience creating this project?
So many people had a hand in making this project possible, and I am so unbelievably grateful for all of the people who took a chance on an unconventional idea. Most of the people who worked on "Lived and Loved" had no background in classical music, but were compelled by chance to finally reclaim "Frauenliebe," and give its protagonist the depth and dignity that she deserves.
What do you hope people takeaway from this performance?
I hope that people who are new to classical music feel like they were able to engage with the piece in a deep way from beginning to end, and I hope that people who are familiar with "Frauenliebe" can see the piece in a new light.
"Lived and Loved," will be presented Thursday, March 29th at 7:30 in Cammilleri Hall.