Welsh National Opera (WNO) has announced a new project aimed at situating opera in our modern world. Rearrange is a series of short films, commissioned to place older, well-known operatic arias in present-day times and to show how the themes in the stories are still relevant today.
WNO invited four directors – Rebbecca Hemmings, Daisy Evans, Mathilde Lopez and Abdul Shayek – to take an extract from an opera of their choice and to give it a contemporary spin for the modern world.
All four short films will be available to watch for free on WNO’s YouTube channel. Currently the first two have been released, with the next two set to be released on a fortnightly basis. Each film only lasts for a few minutes.
In the first of the series, Mathilde Lopez takes Monteverdi’s ‘Tu se morta’ (‘Have You Perished’) from Orfeo (1607) as inspiration. In this heartfelt piece, the eponymous hero is lamenting the death of his beloved Euridice, and he resolves to go down to the underworld to rescue her. Using this aria written for tenor, Lopez explores the themes of sadness, powerlessness and how we seek to recapture what we have lost. The piece is sung by American tenor Tom Randle, with the action moved to a modern-day hospital.
Director Lopez commented: “It has been immensely gratifying to delve in and out of Monteverdi’s Orfeo. Like Orfeo, we all have been deeply stunned, hit by an unbelievable level of sadness, enraged by our powerlessness and we too have tried anything to carry on believing. And we are still doing it.”
In the second film, inspired by Puccini’s powerful ‘O mio babbino caro’ (‘Oh my dear papa’) from the opera Gianni Schicchi (1918), director Abdul Shayek looks at whether love can ever bridge the divisions caused by class and race. Written for a soprano, this solo piece is sung by Lauretta, who begs her father Gianni Schicchi to help her marry the love of her life, Rinuccio.
A devastated Orfeo sings ‘Tu se morta’ as part of Welsh National Opera’s Rearrange series of films; the aria is performed by tenor Tom Randle.