#OperaHarmony, a new way of getting performers together in a virtual world, has matched up 19 groups who are set to release a series of ‘mini-operas’ for all to experience.
The initiative, created by Ella Marchment, stage director of the International Opera Awards, has seen singers, musicians, composers and directors join forces to create brand new short-form pieces to be performed while in isolation which will be shown on the #OperaHarmony YouTube channel.
The first of 19 new pieces will premiere in just a few days’ time, at 7.30pm on Friday 15 May. Edge of Time sees actor and singer-songwriter Daisy Boulton and music producer Johnny Stanley create a piece with Marchment herself as director. The renowned book A Woman on the Edge of Time 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 ’50s to be autonomous individuals. The team has created a short music video in which the voices of Hannah’s family come together to express their sorrow at her suicide. The song calls on other women to take up Hannah’s fight for respect, justice and recognition regardless of gender.
Four further pieces have also been produced so far and will be broadcast weekly. Composer Joel Rust has written A Man Drags the Carcass of a Deer starring American bass-baritone Cody Quattlebaum and soprano Rebecca Bottone. The team also includes David Troupes as librettist and Eloise Lally as director.
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.
Nils Holger Petersen and Amanda Holden have come together to create a series of vignettes that 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.
No Room, No Room, No Room from composer Ergo Phizmiz, directed by Gareth Mattey, looks at how the world can be hard to define and how it’s even harder in confinement. Presenting absurd vignettes of people stuck in their rooms, this video-opera-slideshow extravaganza for four performers (Britt Hewitt, Grainne Gillis, Zahid Siddiqui, Phil Wilcox) and electronics brings home the strangeness of our present situation.
Composer Christopher Schlechte-Bond and librettist Fiona Williams 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 devising a plan to defeat King Corona and his evil super-spreaders. Soprano Jennifer Clark and director Jen McGregor complete the team to bring this to life.
For further information, check out #OperaHarmony’s Facebook page.
Actor and singer-songwriter Daisy Boulton, music producer Johnny Stanley and director Ella Marchment have created Edge of Time, to be broadcast on 15 May.