Voyage to the Moon is a new opera developed by Victorian Opera and set to tour Australia later this year. It’s short - less than 90 minutes but jam-packed with emotion-laden music and action. Although it’s a new opera, it’s based on a new take on a practice that apparently was very common in the days of Handel, Telemann, Vivaldi and their many contemporaries. Music was often borrowed, reworked and recycled to meet the need for a steady stream of content. Remember, for those who could afford or have access, music would have been the TV of the time.
This opera is composed of a string of arias and recitatives drawn from known and less=known baroque composers and their works. The music has been set to words that tell the story of Orlando, a man whose beloved has been kidnapped by his enemy and as a result, he has lost his mind, been driven to total madness. This madness takes the form of anger and indiscriminate retaliation at the world in general. Fortunately for Orlando, his good friend, Astolpho, deeply concerned for Orlando’s wellbeing, meets a Magus who directs him to travel to the Moon, the home of all things lost. There Astolpho and the Magus persuade Selena, the Goddess of the Moon, to return Orlando’s sanity in the form of a box containing a calming vapour. Together they return to the Earth, opening the box in Orlando’s presence and restoring him to a state of emotional peace and calmness.
We have all met people who seem to be inexorably driven by blind rage that leads them inevitably to misery and/or disaster. Sometimes this is recognised as PTSD, post-traumatic stress disorder and is explicable in terms of previous trauma and suffering. In their right minds, these people are loving and reasonable but in the state of madness, nothing seems to touch them. Perhaps a voyage to the moon, a journey into an altered state of consciousness is needed.
We can all benefit from sense of greater coherence, peace and calmness in our lives. Fortunately help is at hand if we know where to look, if we can find a Magus who will point us to the moon and assist us to find our way there and back.
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