La Folia – 5th movement – Ophelia’s mad scene Vocal version


A setting of the scene in Shakespeare’s play Hamlet in which Ophelia is losing her mind out of grief for her murdered father. The modal shifts in the music follow her state of mind. Her brother Laertes has a speaking part.
The underlying theme is the Portuguese “La Folia” melody, which has been used in many sets of variations by many composers over the centuries, but here is really does represent madness.

The modal changes are as follows:
The mode starts in Phrygian (D minor but with lowered second).

When her brother Laertes refers to this “document in madness” the mode changes to Khamaj Theta (major with lowered seventh) as Ophelia begins temporarily to “lighten” in her mood.

After Ophelia sings “you must wear your rue with a difference” the mode changes to Kalyan Theta (major with raised fourth) and she becomes even more light headed.

The rhythms venture into dotted and Scotch snaps, which emphasise this temporary lightness.
But then she begins to ruminate on the question “will he not come again?” and the mode changes to Marva Theta (major but with flattened second and raised fourth), but the tonic is now a semitone higher than where she started.

The mode changes finally to the more familiar minor (Aeolian) at the end (D sharp minor) as she resigns herself to her fate.

The sound sample is sung and spoken by the composer over an electronic preview backing.
The pdf file contains score, parts and full text.