Harpsichordist and actress Elina Mustonen brings to life the Ospedales - Italian orphanages for girls dating back to the Middle Ages - in the piece she commissioned from composer Eero Hämeenniemi. Towards the end of the 17th century, Venetian orphanages developed into the best music schools open to women in Europe, where the most prominent maestros of the time served as teachers: Vivaldi, Galuppi, Cavalli, Gasparini, Legrenzi....
The musical drama Laura Maddalena tells the story of two ospedale girls who lived in different eras by combining history and fiction, Venetian harpsichord music, Hämeenniemi's new compositions and the text she wrote. In addition, the performance includes music by Luigi Rossi, Barbara Strozzi, Domenico Scarlatti, Baldassare Galuppi, and Ferdinando Bertoni.
In the show, religion and music are the most important content of young women's lives inside the closed gates. Even so, the strict supervision of nuns and priests cannot prevent the awakening of the entire spectrum of human emotions. Love and sexuality live in the fantasies of young women, but they cannot be suppressed indefinitely. Finally, love offers a way out of the closed world of the hospital.
The work also deconstructs the male canon and nerd myth of the music world and examines the invisibility of supposed female musicians and composers. As one of the show's female characters states: "I am as invisible as the music." The stories of the Ospedale musicians not only tell about the social atmosphere and gendered norms of their own era, but their reflections can also be seen in the later layers of history up to today's cultural discourse.
The life story of the versatile musician Maddalena-Laura Lombardini Sirmen (1745–1818) provided some of the ingredients for the performance. This woman who grew up in the Ospedale dei Mendicanti later had a successful international career as a violinist, singer and composer.
The liberation story of musical young women is a continuation of Elina Mustonen's successful Shakespeare performance Her Infinite Variety, which combined music and drama, and the Molière performance Jouez!.
On stage: Elina Mustonen, harpsichordist, actress
Music and original text: Eero Hämeenniemi
Directed by: Johanna Freundlich
Visualization: Nina Mansikka
Production: working group
Jenny and Antti Wihuri Foundation, Teosto (Finnish Composers' Copyright Society), Arts Promotion Centre Finland, International Museum and Library of Music in Bologna, Sibelius Museum, Turku, Finnish National Theatre, Nuppu Koivisto, Nina Makkonen, T-IP Law, Armen Igitian, Tove Bergman.