Reflecting how creativity can still flourish in these uncertain times, OperaHarmony has brought together 19 groups to produce a series of micro-operitas via YouTube.
Singers – including international sopranos Anne-Sophie Duprels, Rebecca Bottone and Jennifer Clark and bass-baritone Cody Quattlebaum – have joined forces with directors and composers to bring to life this online series. The idea for the micro-operitas came from stage director Ella Marchment, and the first piece will be released today (Friday 15th May).
Edge of Time sees actor and singer-songwriter Daisy Boulton (founder of Voices; Shakespeare in Love, Noel Coward Theatre), create a piece with Marchment herself as director. The piece is based on the renowned book A Woman on the Edge of Time, which follows Jeremy Gavron’s journey through his mother Hannah’s contacts as he builds a multifaceted portrait of her and asks where it all went wrong.
The adaptation of this remarkable piece of feminist literature exposes how difficult it was for women in the 1950s to be autonomous individuals. In order to encapsulate the essence of this piece, the team has created a short music video in which the voices of Hannah’s family come together to express their sorrow at her passing. The song calls upon other women to take up Hannah’s fight for respect, for justice, and for recognition regardless of gender; creating community to navigate our loneliness and distance in everyday circumstances. This, the first micro-operita in the series, will be released at 7.30pm (Friday 15th May).
Joel Rust (The Conifers, Snape Maltings), the first composer Marchment commissioned with Helios Collective nearly a decade ago, has written A Man Drags the Carcass of a Deer for the series. The piece is a meditation on the tension between isolation and community, between the burden of involvement and the urge towards release.
The singers will be accompanied by an electronic backing, with waves of sounds coming in and out of focus, growing and shifting like the shapes and shadows of a forest at twilight. It stars American bass-baritone Quattlebaum, one of the most exciting new vocal talents of his generation. The team also includes David Troupes as librettist and Elois Lally as director.
No Room, No Room, No Room from composer Ergo Phizmiz (Billiards, Mahogany Opera), looks at how the world can be hard to define and how it’s even harder when we’re all confined. Presenting absurd little vignettes of people stuck in their rooms, this video-opera-slide show extravaganza for four performers (Britt Hewitt, Grainne Gillis, Zahid Siddiqui and Phil Wilcox), brings home the strangeness of our present situation.
Composer Christopher Schlechte-Bond (The Waves, Barbican Centre; BBC Panorama) and librettist Fiona Williams (Das Rheingold, Fulham Opera) are exploring how children are coping in lockdown and using their imaginations to escape in The Dem. The children in their micro-operita are superheroes cooking up a plan to defeat King Corona and his evil super spreaders.
Nils Holger Petersen (Joseph in the Well, Danish National Radio) and Amanda Holden (founder and editor of the Penguin Viking Opera Guides and the only librettist to have received an Olivier Award for Outstanding Achievement in Opera) have come together to create an innovative online piece.
Holden will also be mentoring some of the younger librettists. Their vignettes will meditate on the death of a loved one. Once text and music are ready and the cast chosen, individual rehearsals will take place over the internet. Each performer will record themselves and all recordings will be edited into one continuous and connected file.
When: From 15th May 2020 at 7.30pm
Where: Online via YouTube
More info: www.facebook.com/Opera-Harmony