King Harald’s Saga – Act 2

This video records a performance of act 2 of ‘King Harald’s Saga’ an opera, written for unaccompanied solo soprano voice, composed by Judith Weir in 1979. Sung by Jan Goodkin and recorded by Richard Sharples in St Pancras Church Crypt, Euston Road, London in 2012.
(The actual public performance, which included movement within the crypt, was unrecorded)

I was inspired to sing act 2 of Judith Weir’s amazing opera for a site specific performance in the atmospheric environment of the crypt underneath St Pancras Church. This particular crypt remains untouched and still conceals many ancient interned bodies behind its purpose built brick walls.

In my visual artwork I often work with themes and ideas around time, life span and loss. In act 2 of King Harald’s Saga, the singer has to ‘become’ and express four different people: King Harald, his brother Saint Olaf (who is already deceased and appears as a ghost in Harald’s dream) and two of his wives who are saying farewell to Harald as he goes on his last fateful journey. All this action is condensed into two and a half minutes of solo performance!

The content and ideas within the performance also influenced my site-specific visual work. I presented a site-specific installation ‘Collars’ using 11 found and well-worn detachable shirt collars that had belonged to the same person and constructed them in such a way as to capture and reveal the many different facets of one real persons journey through life.

I am continually fascinated by the possibility that, in heightened moments, so many layers of meaning and ideas can be condensed into a microdot of time.

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