Loose Canons: Frances Moore

Frances Moore is an opera director, writer and teacher based in Tāmaki Makaurau.

Loose Canons is a series in which we invite artists we love to share five things that have informed their work. Meet the rest of our Loose Canons here.

Frances Moore is an opera director, writer and teacher based in Tāmaki Makaurau. She first trained as a classical singer and was a finalist in the Lexus Song Quest before changing direction and graduating from Toi Whakaari: New Zealand Drama School, with a Master of Theatre Arts - Directing.

In 2012 she was the recipient of a Fulbright Scholarship which allowed her to undertake research at New York University. On returning home, Frances launched her own opera company, UnstuckOpera. Its first venture, an Alex Taylor re-composition of Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas, was declared a ‘triumph’ by The Herald. The company has since taken the show to Basement Theatre in Auckland and BATS Theatre in Wellington. UnstuckOpera’s new show, The Winterreise Project, an experimental opera/cabaret based on Schubert's Winterreise song-cycle, opens at Basement Theatre next week.

Maguy Marin’s May B

One of the most electrifying experiences I’ve ever had in the theatre was a performance of Maguy Marin’s May B as part of the 2011 Auckland Arts Festival. Based on Samuel Beckett’s works, it was joyfully strange, Drab, clay-faced dancers shuffled across the stage – always searching but never arriving at a destination. It started in the simplest of ways, with the khaki fire curtain still down, and an old recording of Schubert’s Der Leiermann playing. This gesture, driving our attention towards this simple uncanny song immediately electrified me, and from there I was enthralled in the collision of music, dance and theatre. It was one of those performances where you savoured every moment, knowing that you’d be a bit bereft when the experience ended. I learned that this was the kind of expression I craved – it spoke to such big complex themes of what it means to be human, the small interactions that create a community, and all glorified in an intoxicatingly non-naturalistic way. I left the theatre knowing that I desperately wanted to make this kind of work. Maybe one day I’ll get there.

Thea Brejek’s Rigoletto

One of the earliest operas I ever went to was Thea Brejek’s production of Rigoletto with Wellington City Opera. As I remember, it was this stunningly minimalist set, consisting of a severely raked white stage, with a red seam that ran down the middle and a single door. From here, this whole world of politics, power and the cruelty of love, unfolded. I was only twelve, but I was so angry by the end of the performance that this young woman could kill herself for such a disgusting man. It just made no sense to me. I remember walking through the parking lot afterwards with my Dad and just crying these tears of rage at how stupid it was. I’d bought into the form hook line and sinker, and thereafter used to thrash my parents’ opera CDs.

Alice Canton

I’m a little bit obsessed with theatre maker and general queen Alice Canton. Every time we bump into each other we have these intense conversations that make me want to grab the world by the ovaries and get shit done. I’m always so grateful to her for being able to help me distil what I’m thinking and feeling. Her work feels urgent and necessary.

Taylor Swift

Yeah, I know it’s no longer cool to love Taylor Swift, but I’m a loyal kind of fan. Also, she’s written some bangers and is an incredible businesswoman – what’s not to admire? That she is a young female artist that everyone now loves to hate feels so gendered to me. We all saw the same thing with Hilary Clinton. Despite this, I love that she refuses to apologise for her success and continues to put work out there.

I’ll also always be grateful to her for providing pop gems like You Belong To Me and Shake It Off that my sisters, nieces and I can shamelessly sing and dance around to, uninhibited, at family gatherings.

David Bowie

Because he was David Bowie. I still cry when I think about his passing, but feel really grateful that I was alive on this earth at the same time as this genius.

I watched Labyrinth A LOT growing up, never able to understand why Sarah didn’t want to stay in his world. He made me feels things about a man in tights that I didn’t understand until years later…

The Wintereisse Project runs from 17-28 October at Basement Theatre. Tickets available here.

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The Pantograph Punch publishes urgent and vital cultural commentary by the most exciting new voices in Aotearoa.

The Pantograph Punch publishes urgent and vital cultural commentary by the most exciting new voices in Aotearoa.

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