Michel van der Aa: The Book of Sand (2015)

With The Book of Sand composer Michel van der Aa has invented a completely new genre: the digital, interactive song cycle. Created in partnership with the Holland Festival, Sydney Festival, Google Cultural Institute, BBC The Space and other partners, and created exclusively in digital format, The Book of Sand was launched on 31st May as a website and smartphone app.

Inspired by the allusions to infinity and the use of mazes and mirrors in the fantastical stories of Jorge Luis Borges, Van der Aa puts you in a space where all places in the world exist simultaneously. A young woman (played by the Australian singer-songwriter Kate Miller-Heidke) collects up sand which is being moved between the film layers by a mysterious machine. Three parallel film layers reveal alternative points of view and introduce new elements to the story, which allows you to choose a new route through the narrative at any point.


Björk: Medulla (2015)

‘What happened before we got involved in problematic things like civilization, religion and nationhood?’ Th is opera takes as its starting point Medúlla, a 2004 conceptual album by the famous singer and songwriter Björk, an album entirely devoted to every sound and noise that comes out of the human throat. It was created in response to racist and nationalist reactions to the 9/11 attacks. Th e title refers to the Latin word for marrow, and by extension to the essence of things, corresponding to the composer’s desire to explore the heart of music and through it the fundamental element that unites humanity, regardless of belief, race, nationality, or age.

Music by björk
vocal arrangements and new composition by anat spiegel
Lyrics by björk, e.e. cummings, jakobina siguaroardott ir, sjón
released 30 august 2004
premiere La Monnaie / de Munt, 4/2/2015


Ted Hearne: The Source (2014)

Ted Hearne’s piece The Source is an oratorio for four singers and a band of seven musicians.

The subject is Chelsea Manning, the US Army Private who infamously leaked hundreds of thousands of classified documents to WikiLeaks.
The text, culled and arranged by librettist Mark Doten, sets Manning’s words and sections of the classified material now known as the Iraq and Afghanistan War Logs.

The Source was premiered at the BAM Next Wave Festival in a Beth Morrison Production directed by Daniel Fish.


Brian Irvine: I Just Sell My Bananas (2014)

from Things We Throw Away – Five short operas by Brian Irvine (music) and John McIlduff (text) inspired by life on the streets of Dublin.

I Just Sell My Bananas
No tales to be told, no songs to sing, she just sells her bananas. She has kids to take care of, and a husband. Day in day out on the streets of Dublin. The bananas, however, are relentlessly cheerful. They sing with a jazzy Latin pazzaz…

Sylvia O’Brien (Banana Lady)
Sarah Shine (Banana 1)
Rachel Croash (Banana 2)
Maria Kelly (Banana 3)




Serge Kakudji: Coup Fatal (2014)

In Coup Fatal the Congolese countertenor Serge Kakudji and 12 musicians from Kinshasa engage with the baroque repertoire. A new and contemporary universe is created around the vocals, both visually and in music: exuberant and organic and yet full of contradictions.

The music is by the Brussels composer Fabrizio Cassol and guitarist Rodriguez Vangama; the director is Alain Platel, assisted by the dancer Romain Guion (C(H)ŒURS) and the overall setting, a curtain of empty cartridges, is by Freddy Tsimba. And let us not forget the costumes! The baroque Coup Fatal is given the unadulterated brilliance of the perky « sapeurs », the dandies of Kinshasa. Rather than a tribute to baroque music, Coup Fatal is an ode to the inexorable elegance and vitality of the Congolese.

Read more about the genesis of this project.


Cally Spooner / Peter Joslyn: And You Were Wonderful, On Stage (2014)

Cally Spooner developed And You Were Wonderful, On Stage, a peripatetic musical (music composition: Peter Joslyn), over the course of two years. The piece was delivered by a chorus line of women, gossiping about celebrities, athletes and politicians who have outsourced their performances to a technology, with examples including Beyoncé’s lip-syncing scandal during the presidential inauguration, Lance Armstrong’s Oprah-mediated apology for his use of doping, and speechwriter Jon Favreau’s departure from the White House in pursuit of a career as a Hollywood scriptwriter. The chorus’ libretto was based on meeting notes from an advertising agency, on how to extract personally disclosed stories and aspirations from employees and repackage them to better reflect the voice of their corporation as a tv-commercials.

Distinct groups of performers seem oblivious to one another: an opera singer announces five scenes in the guise of television hosts, a chorus line generate soundtrack at static microphones, dancers -governed by in-ear sound systems produce a repetitive image of movement while technical crew follow shot-lists, which most often privilege empty space and apparatus. As floor managers  assemble, dis-assemble then re-assemble uninhabited stage-sets, the production team call cuts to pre-recorded commercial breaks, from a distant control room.

In the installation at the Stedelijk Museum, filmic composition becomes a by-product of a process; where these several well-rehearsed units of performers produce a forty-six minute non-stop motion, which sometimes creates coherency,  and at other times does not. The six camera feeds are presented on five screens, with  their chronology and technical mishaps left untouched, in an installation that has more in common with a live choreographic event, than cinema.



Christopher Cerrone: Invisible Cities (2013)

Imagine arriving at a train station and discovering a man singing beautifully to himself. But what if he were singing to 150 people all over the station who were listening to him, seven other singers, and a live orchestra via state-of-the-art wireless headphones?

That’s the concept behind Invisible Cities, a new immersive opera experience produced by The Industry and LA Dance Project, with sound powered by Sennheiser. First performed in LA’s Union Station to international acclaim in 2013, this one-of-a-kind production became a cultural phenomenon, with 9 performances added by popular demand.

Based on Italo Calvino’s beloved novel and hauntingly set by composer Christopher Cerrone, Invisible Cities is a 70-minute meditation on urban life, memory, and human connection.

Director Yuval Sharon’s concept makes each audience member the protagonist of the experience in a transfigured view of everyday life. Choreographer Danielle Agami draws the audience into an uncannily intimate proximity to the LA Dance Project.


Lina Lapelytė : HAVE A GOOD DAY! / GEROS DIENOS! (2012)

The opera by Lina Lapelytė focuses on the inner lives of cashiers in a shopping centre: showing what lies behind their mechanical “Good afternoon!“, “Thank you!“, “Have a good day!”, and fake smiles. Faceless, robot-like shop workers found in everyday life are transformed into unique and lively characters. Their secret thoughts and biographies are turned into short, personal dramas. The characters of different sales clerks, embodying universal archetypes, convey the predominant social landscape. The libretto is a revealing mosaic of spoken, literary language and documentary.

The atmosphere of the supermarket is established through the glimmering and buzzing installation of daylight lamps and environmental sounds, connecting the audience to the stage and the 10 cashiers. The set itself is very minimalistic. Real goods – the recognizable décor of a shopping center – exist only in acoustic and verbal form.

The monotonous beep of each item being scanned is a key sound through the whole opera. It gets louder and quieter, but it is always present. Songs that accompany the beeping are as monotonous as the process of shopping and selling. Instead of becoming the main point of the opera, music serves the thoughts of the cashiers – it facilitates their voice.
To avoid any moral or condemnatory suggestion, a critical attitude towards capitalism is expressed through humor, paradox, irony and poetry. The mosaic of different destinies is transformed into one poem suggesting the pleasure of consumption.

Opera for 10 cashiers, supermarket sounds and piano
Work by Vaiva Grainytė, Lina Lapelytė, Rugilė Barzdžiukaitė

Librettist Vaiva Grainytė
Composer and music director Lina Lapelytė
Director and set designer Rugilė Barzdžiukaitė
Costume designer Daiva Samajauskaitė
Lighting designer Eugenijus Sabaliauskas
Sound director Arūnas Zujus

Cashiers: Lina Dambrauskaitė, Liucina Blaževič, Vida Valuckienė, Veronika Čičinskaitė-Golovanova, Lina Valionienė, Rima Šovienė, Milda Zapolskaitė, Rita Račiūnienė, Svetlana Bagdonaitė, Kristina Svolkinaitė
Security Guard: Kęstutis Pavalkis (piano)
Lina Lapelytė (live electronics)


What games can learn from experimental theater

In this very interesting article Nick Horwitz expresses how seeing an experimental music theatre production made him realize what games could learn from it:

I didn’t realize what I want from video games until I saw experimental theater.

The first time I attended Sleep No More I realized that I had found exactly what I had always wanted video games to become, but couldn’t quite articulate until I experienced it. The show, an immersive theater performance which turns the audience into ghostly voyeurs stuck in the middle of a noir-tinged retelling of Macbeth, is a masterpiece of environmental storytelling.

In the three hours spent freely exploring the seemingly endless rooms that make up Sleep No More’s “stage,” you are invited to open drawers and cabinets, read through letters and notes, and engross yourself in a surreal, yet thoroughly realized world. And while performers tell the main narrative through a series of danced and pantomimed vignettes, oftentimes the richest stories can be found by examining a scrap of paper, finding a stray piece of jewelry or simply observing how furniture has been arranged in a grimy foyer.

The agency given to the audience — and the trust placed in them to put the puzzle pieces together — helped me put form to something that I felt games were completely capable of doing, yet rarely took full advantage of. And when they did (BioShock comes to mind as a prime example) these moments often were overshadowed by combat and puzzle solving. Sleep No More made me realize that I wanted a game that eschewed those trappings and made exploration-based narrative its key mechanic. Last night, I played that game in Gone Home.”

Read the full article here:


Joseph Keckler: Shroom Trip Opera (2013)

Herewith, comic/performance artist/opera singer Joseph Keckler’s Shroom Trip Opera. The video, directed by Sifl and Olly‘s Liam Lynch, takes Keckler’s musical account of a bad trip, part of his stage performance I Am an Opera, and visualizes it in particularly inventive ways. Plus, you learn the importance of dental hygiene, as opposed to laryngectomy.

Source: http://nerdist.com/shroom-trip-opera/

Song and Performance by Joseph Keckler
Strings played by Dan Bartfield
Video by Liam Lynch