#OperaHarmony has brought together 19 groups, set to release exciting micro-operitas from May via YouTube, reflecting how creativity can still flourish in these uncertain times. Singers including international sopranos Anne-Sophie Duprels, Rebecca Bottone and Jennifer Clark and bass-baritone Cody Quattlebaum have joined forces with the likes of directors Mary Birnbaum and Candace Evans and composers Ken Steen and Joel Rust to bring to life this incredible idea from Ella Marchment. The first micro-operita will be released on 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 starring American bass-baritone Quattlebaum, one of the most exciting new vocal talents of his generation who was due to appear in Thierry Pécou's Until the Lions at the Opéra National du Rhin when the lockdown happened, and Bottone (Semira, Royal Opera House). 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. The team also includes David Troupes as librettist and Eloise Lally as director.
Edge of Time sees Daisy Boulton (founder of Voices; Shakespeare in Love, Noel Coward Theatre), actor and singer-songwriter, 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. 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, will be released at 7.30pm on Friday 15th May at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCawxq3E9uWbcBMeSbF_AhRQ.
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, 2007) 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.
No Room, No Room, No Room from composer Ergo Phizmiz (Billiards, Mahogany Opera), directed by Gareth Mattey, 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, Phil Wilcox) and electronics brings home the strangeness of our present situation.
Composer Christopher Schlechte-Bond (The Waves, Barbican Centre; BBC Panorama) and librettist Fiona Williams (Simon Boccanegra, Il Tabarro, 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. Soprano Jennifer Clark and director Jen McGregor will complete the team to bring this to life.
Those involved in Opera Harmony to date are:
Michael Betteridge Heathcliff Blair
Caleb Glickman (and piano)
Nils Holger Petersen
Christopher Schlechte-Bond James Schouten
Judith Lynn Stillman (and piano)
Ted Bosy (and director)
Anthony Thomas Buck
Jamie Eastlake (and director)
Emily Gallagher (and soprano)
Rebecca Hurst (and designer)
Gareth Mattey (and director)
Anna Pool (and director)
Mathilda du Tillieul McNicol (and director)
Freya Wynn-Jones (Voicings Collective)
Charlotte Badham (mezzo-soprano)
Lotte Betts-Dean (mezzo-soprano)
Rebecca Bottone (soprano)
Daisy Boulton (singer-songwriter, actress, librettist and director)
Daisy Brown (soprano)
Jennifer Clark (soprano)
Anne-Sophie Duprels (soprano)
Kady Evanyshan (mezzo-soprano)
Emily Gallagher (soprano)
Grainne Gillis (alto)
Britt Hewitt (soprano)
Linda Hurst (soprano)
Andrew Irwin (tenor)
Florian Panzieri (tenor)
Cody Quattlebaum (bass-baritone)
Joseph Sandler (baritone)
James Schouten (and composer)
Zahid Siddiqui (tenor)
Andrew Slater (baritone)
Phil Wilcox (bass-baritone)
Joel Williams (tenor)
Ozlem Celik (clarinet)
Jane Chapman (harpsichord)
Bart Folkers (viola)
The Glendenings (trombone)
Gillian Horn (bassoon)
Clara Lafuente Garcia (oboe)
Katie Sazanova (flute)
Renee Timmer (cello)
Kevin Kirs Verstege (cello)
Jonas Rose Høeg (SOUNDSRIGHT DK)