Name: May Kristin Svanholm Hegvold
Main Subject: Early Music Singing
Research Supervisor: Inês de Avena Braga
Title of Research: Madness in music
Research Question: How can one, convincingly, portray madness in a musical performance without being considered in a state of madness?
Summary of Results:
In the 17th century, madness was a relatively common theme in entertainment such as poetry, theatre, and music. There was something that fascinated the people of that time with the uncontrollable nature of madness. Henry Purcell and Thomas d’Urfey was among the many writers and composers who dealt with this subject, and a selection of their mad songs and texts are the main focus of my research.
Feelings such as love, hate, envy, sadness and happiness are feelings most of us have felt in our life, but madness is perhaps a state that is exclusive to some people. Is it then possible to portray this state of mind convincingly in a performance of the music? To answer this question, I have examined how madness was portrayed by Purcell and d’Urfey, and generally how people that were considered mad was treated and viewed by the society. After researching the madness of the 17th century and what we today view as madness through music, text, historical documents and other forms of entertainment, I have come to the conclusion that it is possible to portray madness convincingly, but that madness is something completely different than the feelings previously mentioned. One person can view something as madness while someone else sees it as completely normal.
May Kristin Svanholm Hegvold is a soprano from Norway. She did her bachelor's degree at the Conservatoire in Trondheim with professor Elisabeth Meyer-Topsøe, and is now studying for a master's degree in the early music department at the Royal Conservatoire in The Hague, with Rita Dams. May Kristin has participated as a soloist in many productions, including the premieres of two new operas by Norwegian composers, “Pappapermisjon” by Bertil Palmar Johansen and “Kommentarfeltet” by Trygve Brøske. She has also, among other things, been the soloist in Pergolesi’s “Stabat Mater” and sung the roles of Dido, 2nd Woman and 1st Witch from the opera “Dido and Aeneas”. Her latest roles involve Pamina from the opera “Die Zauberflöte” and Piacere from Händels “Il Trionfo del Tempo”.