Household Names works on many levels. Firstly as a chamber performance of the works of three female composers – the Baroque composer and singer Barbara Strozzi, Romantic era pianist and composer Clara Schumann and current Adelaide composer Anne Cawrse.
The works of these women have been chosen because they are not household names! Various People Inc would like to change that. Mezzo soprano and director of the show Cheryl Pickering and soprano Kate Louise McFarlane narrate the story and history of Strozzi and Schumann (but not Cawrse!) whilst interpreting their songs with verve, and compassion. For added authenticity we are even read extracts from the Schumann’s marriage diary.
Underscoring everything is the premise that female artists often have to relinquish their creative brilliance because of domestic demands. Two hundred year spans may separate the three composers but the same issues remain.
Cheryl Pickering’s stage direction brings a light humorous touch to the whole event. Multi-tasking women wear aprons and go about dusting, marking books and packing lunch boxes before getting up to perform. Sachiko Hidaka irons shirts before getting up to play piano and they all grab the odd gulp of tea, on the hop, when time permits. When can women reach their creative peaks when there is all this to contend with?
All four performers display excellent musicianship. The blending of the two voices as they harmonise provide highlight moments. Sachiko Hidaka on piano gives two Swoon moments as she plays some Schumann compositions. Glenys March on harpsichord provides the perfect accompaniment for soprano Kate Louise McFarlane’s renditions of Barbra Stozzi songs. Another standout was Pickering’s rendition of Anne Cawrse‘s Lament sung with true pathos.
Presented in the atmospheric foyer of the Masonic Lodge Hall – now the bar/coffee lounge Taylors & Holmes, the performers are in close proximity to their audience. Such a setting enhances the listening pleasure with its intimacy and warm acoustics adding to the experience.
This is a fabulous show full of warmth, wry humour, superb music and the celebration of female creativity which deserves to be enjoyed by a much wider audience than lovers of classical music. It is interesting theatre with a feminist undercurrent and championing of two once famous, now forgotten women composers, which encourages the audience to feel some indignation on their behalf, while being beguiled by wonderful music. You will come out of the show wanting to explore more of the work and stories of these remarkable women. May their flame re-ignite and spread.
Book at FringeTix on 1300 621 255 and adelaidefringe.com.au. Click HERE to purchase your tickets.