Graduate student Amanda Lauricella, who is pursuing her doctorate in Musical Arts in Vocal Performance with a minor in Theatre and Drama, presents her Doctoral Lecture Recital titled Songs of Ophelia Saturday November 14th at 2:30 PM. The program for the recital features selections from works inspired by Shakespeare’s Hamlet, including Drei Lieder der Ophelia by Richard Strauss, La mort d’Ophélie by Hector Berlioz, and Selections of Songs and Sonnets to Ophelia by Jake Heggie. The event will be live-streamed via YouTube – link for the event along with more information may be found at the Mead Witter School of Music website here.
The focus of the recital is related in the abstract below:
The ultimate question of Shakespeare’s masterpiece is always, “Was Hamlet really mad?” But what about Ophelia?
The beautiful Ophelia, daughter of Polonius and sister of Laertes, is in love with Hamlet. When Hamlet begins to go “mad,” however, he cruelly denounces Ophelia, accusing her of dishonesty and manipulation. Not long after, Hamlet accidentally stabs Ophelia’s father, Polonius, assuming that he was actually King Claudius. Her father’s death unhinges Ophelia, leaving her “mad” with grief. She decides to leave the castle and wanders by a stream where she eventually drowns, as reported by Queen Gertrude.
It is unclear whether Ophelia committed suicide as a result of her madness, or whether her death was simply an accident. If Ophelia did commit suicide, what was the true reason? Was it because of the madness that stemmed from her father’s sudden death? Or from Hamlet’s cruel and unexpected rejection of her?
And even if she did take her own life, was it really from “madness”? What if she ended her life to desperately reclaim her own sense of power amidst her patriarchal repression? Like Hamlet, perhaps Ophelia’s apparent “madness” was not true madness after all.