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.


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

Judith Egger: Bardo (2012)

“Mystic, enigmatic and visually stunning: This is how Judith Egger’s performance “Bardo” can be described. Circling around states of the in-between and of transition, the term “bardo” refers to the Tibetan Book of the Dead (Bardo Thodol: “Liberation Through Hearing During The Intermediate State”), a collection of Buddhist sutras from the 8th century. The text focuses on the interval between death and rebirth in which different states of consciousness are achieved. These “gaps” or phases of uncertainty can not only be experienced after death but are an essential part of life itself.
Judith Egger establishes three-dimensional miniature settings in her oral cavity – a sensitive place between inside and outside where not only breath and sound leave the body, but communication is generated. The open mouth becomes a stage, a theater revealing various scenes. These will be accompanied live by Munich-based composer and musician Axel Nitz and transferred onto the big screen by cinematographer Maria Rilz. Thereby, sounds from the interior of the artist’s mouth will be integrated into the performance.
Although the miniature architectures placed inside Judith Egger’s oral cavity appear to be deserted and rather static, the flickering of a TV set in a living room and the sushi conveyor belt at a restaurant show some movement. The foaming froth inside a cave refuses stagnation as much as the sparkling water of a fountain symbolizes the circle of life. The artist creates moments of contemplation and tranquility through different scenes anticipating change at the same time. What happens beyond these intermediate spaces remains uncertain.”
Text by Nadine Seligmann

Paul Oomen: Nikola (2012)

Nikola is an opera specially created in 4DSOUND by composer Paul Oomen, inspired on the life and work of the genial inventor Nikola Tesla. The opera Nikola emerges from within the audience, where singers performing in the midst of the crowd. The theatre is turned into a nightclub hosting the opera as part of a night-long techno party.


Zoe Scoglio: Shifting Ground (2012)

Lava to rock, fossil to fuel – Shifting Ground is a performance and installation that draws parallels between geological transformations and those found within the human race. Media artist and performer Zoe Scoglio unites object manipulation, physicalised sounds and interactive projection mapping and ceremonial participation in a journey from the cosmic to the concrete. The boundaries between human and rock melt away, as the presence of the earth’s minerals is revealed in the structures we create, the tools we use, and the bodies in which we live. Shifting Ground looks at our ever-changing relationship to geological substances, exploring the idea that all forms are temporal and metamorphic. In a society defined by its seemingly solid and indestructible cities, Shifting Ground aims to reminds us of the impermanent and fleeting nature of our time on this earth, and our symbiotic relationship with the elements that form it.

Missy Mazzoli: Song from the Uproar (2012)

A multimedia opera that combines live musical performance and original film, this compelling new work was inspired by the journals of Isabelle Eberhardt (1877-1904), one of the most remarkable women of her era. At the age of 20, she left her life in Switzerland behind for an unfettered existence in the North African desert.

Hailed by The New York Times as “a visually and aurally ravishing chamber opera…a captivating multimedia spectacle,” Missy Mazzoli’s Song from the Uproar immerses the audience in the surreal landscapes of Isabelle Eberhardt’ life: the loss of her family, the thrill of her arrival in Africa and the mystery of her demise.

Streetwise Opera’s Fables: A Film Opera (2010)

Streetwise Opera’s Fables – A Film Opera is a set of four short film operas created by composers and filmmakers working with 144 performers who have experienced homelessness and a small professional cast.

Composers Mira Calix, Orlando Gough, Emily Hall and Paul Sartin/Andy Mellon worked with filmmakers Flat-e, Gaelle Denis, Iain Finlay and Tom Marshall and each chose a different fable – the traditional (The Boy Who Cried Wolf), the literary (Oscar Wilde’s Nightingale and the Rose), the local legend (The Hartlepool Monkey) and the contemporary (Shinichi Hoshi’s Hey Come on Out).

Streetwise Opera’s 2010 production was our second venture into film and live performance following the incredible success of My Secret Heart. Fables – A Film Opera is a collection of short, seven minute film operas, each created by our Streetwise Opera performers working with some of the most exciting composers and filmmakers in the UK.

Following its premiere at Shoreditch Church as part of Spitalfields Winter Festival, Fables toured as stand-alone films and as integrated film and live opera events in 2011 and 2012 to festivals and venues including Edinburgh International Film Festival, Latitude, BFI Southbank, Tête à Tête: the Opera Festival, Chelthenham Music Festival, Branchage Film Festival, London Short Film Festival and the Old Vic Vaults Festival.

Tod Machover: Death and the Powers (2010)

Death and the Powers: A Robot Pageant is a new opera by composer Tod Machover at the MIT Media Lab, in collaboration with the American Repertory Theater. It is a one-act, full evening work that tells the story of Simon Powers, a successful and powerful businessman and inventor, who wants to go beyond the bounds of humanity. Reaching the end of his life, Powers faces the question of his legacy: “When I die, what remains? What will I leave behind? What can I control? What can I perpetuate?” He is now conducting the last experiment of his life, passing from one form of existence to another in an effort to project himself into the future. Whether or not he is actually alive is a question. Simon Powers is himself now a System. His family, friends and associates must decide what this means, how it affects them, and whether to follow. New performance technologies for Death and the Powers are being developed at the MIT Media Lab, including a new technique of Disembodied Performance to translate Simon’s offstage performance into an expressively animated stage. Other novel “instruments” include a Musical Chandelier and a chorus of robots.

LIBRETTIST: Robert Pinsky
STORY: Randy Weiner, Robert Pinsky
DIRECTOR: Diane Paulus
CHOREOGRAPHER: Karole Armitage

World premiere: 24th September 2010, Salle Garnier Monte-Carlo
United States premieres with the American Repertory Theater in Boston and at Chicago Opera Theater (March and April 2011).