mLau has today premiered their new video for the track titled ‘Lullaby for Wendla Bergmann’. Conceived as a story about the sudden realization we feel when entering adulthood, that moment when we realize our dreams aren’t guarantied, is given a musical soliloquy accompanied by the vividness of stark animations that translate the music into a stunning visual piece of art.

This is a lullaby for all of us. That time in our lives when we transition from imagination to realization, all the while trying to cling on to those lofty dreams that carried us through those years we will never get back. The thing we need to realize, however, is that we need to cling onto just enough of that youthfulness to keep that driving fire ignited just enough to add a substance to the universe. This is what I take away from this song, and that is the beauty of music.

About ‘Lullaby for Wendla Bergmann’

Lullaby for Wendla Bergmann was originally composed in 2013 by Maria Laura Ronzoni (guitar and voice) and performed in duo with Sisto Feroli (electric guitar) for the play Spring Awakening by the German author Frank Wedekind (1864-1919).

The performance was conceived and produced by Margherita Vestri and directed by Rolando Macrini, founder of the heliocentric theatre and collaborator of the Off-Off Broadway, La MaMa-Experimental Theatre Club in New York.

From the same play mLau released in November 2020 A Queen with No Head, then included in the EP Locked In (April 2021). Whereas the Queen’s story was a fairy tale with a happy ending, Wendla’s is the grim epilogue to the story.

Spring Awakening is a controversial work written in 1891, defined by the author himself “eine Kindertragödie” (a children’s tragedy). Wendla is a 13-year-old who discovers love with a boy of her same age and becomes pregnant. But her mother, wanting to hide this shame from their social circles, ends up killing her while planning an abortion with the aid of a doctor.

mLau reworked the song adding the electronic arrangements by Massimo Marraccini. The nursery rhymes, folkish singing is echoed by a dissonant tapestry of sounds, almost martial, a choice made to visualise the contrast between the children’s innocence and the violence of adults.

In a Tim Burton’s style, Lullaby for Wendla Bergmann is an alt-folk goth fable, as Suzanne Vega was remixed by Stereolab.

The Story

The song, as the theatre’s play, focuses on the tragedies of young people who, as they enter the world, are crushed and suffocated by a dominant culture which is imposed on them without explainations.

Wedekind’s work, composed in 1891, was not performed until 1906 due to the controversial nature of the themes dealt with: sex, God, death, sadism, suicide, abortion, homosexuality, criticism about the hypocrisy of education, the collapse of faith in an afterlife, censorship.

The discovery of the hypocritical world of adults, the taboos inflicted by family and society, and the inevitable conflict between nature and culture are the substratum on which the drama is triggered, leading to a fatal, tragic epilogue.

The story tells of a group of adolescent classmates who begin to question the existential matters of life, as they find themselves locked and crushed in the grip of judgement, rigour, and guilt induced by the adult world that continues to repress and punish their instincts.

In this scenario Wendla, the 13-year-old protagonist, discovers love with a classmate and becomes pregnant without knowing what has happened to her body. Her mother, instead of helping her to accept the baby and give birth, worried about social conventions agrees with a doctor to cause her abortion.

But the medicine Wendla has to take will be lethal and she will die in her mother’s arms, in spite of reassurance that everything is going well.

The Animation Video

The video was directed by Daniela Cono, with illustrations by Alessandra Fierro. Maria Laura Ronzoni describes the symbolism of the short animation film in her own words:

“In the first verse I wanted to describe almost pastoral scenes, in which I imagine the little girl collecting daisies for her mother (13 daisies, representing the age at which she will die).

She actually loves her mother and wants to please her, even when she rebels because her mom wants to lengthen the hem of her dress, which she likes short.

When discussing with Daniela and Alessandra about the making of the video, I said I wanted the images to go beyond the lyrics of the song, to reach a narrative level parallel to Wedekind’s tale and bring the poetic, symbolic and musical level closer to the development of the actual tragedy.

In the second verse Wendla picks apples, and again 13 is the recurring number. The apple is a symbol of sin according to our biblical archetypes, but is also the sacred fruit that in ancient matriarchal religions represents female sexuality, motherhood, and the genitals of women.

But the apple is also a symbol of the Knowledge that Eve, a sinner, offers to Adam to steal God’s secrets, which is why she is punished, and with her all of the human kind. The apple is another symbol of the crash between free nature and a religion that controls and punishes.

Then Wendla spreads honey on the pancakes ‘wishing fortune and good luck’ to herself and her baby. This sweet ritual emphasises the delight of her sweet expectations, unaware of what’s going to happen.

In the third and final verse there are 13 candles at Wendla’s bedside. It is night and she dies counting the stars that fall on her pillow, turning into drops/feathers of blood as she kisses her father goodnight.

The father, in my lyrics, represents the patriarchal and authoritarian society that cause the actual death of the little girl. In Wedekind’s tale instead there is no mention of Wendla’s father. This figure, in a stroke of genius, is replaced by the doctor, the mother’s accomplice, but the meaning is unequivocal.

In our video we wanted even the doctor to disappear, replaced by the instrument of death, the giant syringe that always terrifies children.

We also wanted the images for the song’s chorus to be, graphically and stylistically, completely detached from the verses.

The voice repetitively sings: ‘dream, sweet dreams’, a lullaby for Wendla, while the silhouettes of bodies moving frantically and uncoordinatedly, jerkily and at times even out of time are the adults killing Wendla as they bid her good night.

The irony is chilling and gives me a cue to emphasize the brutal contrast between Wendla’s naive world and the one of the adults, cruel, idiotic, empty, hypocritical, corrupt and schizophrenic as Wedekind saw them.

Music Video Credits

Daniela Cono: videomaker, editing.

Alessandra Fierro: illustrations

Song Credits

Maria Laura Ronzoni: Words and Music, Vocal Arrangements -©I.M.R.O. Ireland

Massimo Marraccini (Arrangements and Production)

Recorded and Mixed at Sound Side Studio –Rome

About mLau

mLau is a musical journey by Massimo Marraccini and Maria Laura Ronzoni. The duo from Rome are brave pioneers in creating their own visual soundscapes, mixing alternative folk and futuristic electronic, enriched by artistic videos. Their background is rooted In alternative folk, post-rock and trip-hop, and their attitude focuses on pure artistic expression without strict rules.

Mlau first two singles No One Around and A Queen With No Head were released in 2020, both paired with short videos in graphic animation that gained attention from national and international websites and radios, followed in 2021 by an EP entitled Locked In, featuring 4 original songs plus a tribute to one of the great masters of the musical-literary tradition of our times who most influenced the writing of mLau ‘s lyrics: Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues, an elegant, minimal electro-folk interpretation of Bob Dylan‘s poetic masterpiece.

In mLau the voice, lyrics and melodies composed by Maria Laura Ronzoni are enriched by Massimo Marraccini‘s rhythmic and harmonic textures, through research – both musical and literary – for beauty as a creative respons and a way out from an existential condition in which we’re fragile and astonished witnesses of a surreal reality. In front of it we find ourselves alone but nevertheless linked to each other and locked up, or better locked in.

The duo performances are an audio-visual experience rather than a concert, an immersive soundscape created by mLau sounds and avant-garde visual projections.

After releasing in November ’21 a third video clip for the song Blue Boy – Babylon Girl, mLau concentrated on writing and recording, at Sound Side Studio in Rome, their first full-length, which will include, in addition to the songs from the first EP Locked In, new unreleased songs inspired by literary figures, social themes and dialogic introspection, showing a further developing of their research for a sound in which traditional and futuristic go hand in hand.