The Anatomy of melancholy

21 October 2014

A new opera drawing links between medical and physical health in an exploration of depression, genetics and renaissance medicine.

Libretto by Finn Beames | Music by Benjamin Tassie

TestBed1, Battersea 22 to 25 October | Happy Soul Festival, Richmond 14 October

PRESS NIGHT: Wednesday 22 October 8pm

This original opera, inspired by Robert Burton’s 1621 medical text book and performed by eight musicians, six singers and an actor, will take an intimate look at historical and modern-day experiences of depression through song, speech and mobile live-feed video screens. Through the exploration of a young man's experience of depression and his family's responses, the production compares Renaissance theory with contemporary research, using projected images of the performers’ bodies to express experiences of depression and draw attention to the links between mental and physical health and showing that there are many creative ways to engage with mental health issues.

The Anatomy of Melancholy is an epic text admired throughout literary history that attempts to give an exhaustive dissection of ‘melancholy’ in a search for knowledge of its symptoms, causes and cures. By addressing the relationship between physicality and wellbeing, bodycorps aims to encourage the audience to be more honest and open in their discussions of mental health. The show is performed in a space not conventionally associated with opera to create new possibilities for the art form and perhaps make it more accessible and relatable to broader audiences.

The work has been written in collaboration with molecular psychiatrist Professor Jonathan Flint, Head of the Psychiatric Genetics Group at the Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics, and accordingly includes cutting edge research on genetics and depression.

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