TV opera: or, Love thrives in propinquity but dies on contact

Hopkins, Tim (2012) TV opera: or, Love thrives in propinquity but dies on contact. [Performance]

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TV opera: or, Love thrives in propinquity but dies on contact,is a performance project that brings together research activities generated by the TV Opera research project. From the audience's point of view, it is designed to be an entertaining meditation on Mozart, his ability to depict quarrelling emotional perspectives simultaneously, and our ability to engage with this complex space in a fluent way. From the research point of view, it is also a reflection on mediation and remediation, on how we perceive 3d live performance, and reconstruct it when we see 2d renderings. It asks questions about how the virtuosic reality of opera can be more excitingly disseminated though mass media.

The core material is Mozart's Idomeneo, in particular the quartet Andro ramingo e solo, a landmark innovation in ensemble writing. This quartet would be performed completely and adapted / creatively deconstructed through vocal improvisation in rehearsal. The text explores in an extreme setting the experience of being tormented by the presence of the thing that you love, but must not touch. This is depicted in two relationships, one familial, one erotic -both inexpressible. (In the former case, a king appeases the gods, preventing them from unleashing a destructive tempest on his people by agreeing to sacrifice the first thing he sees. But subsequently the first thing he sees is his son Idamante. The father tries to hide from the son. Meanwhile, in the second situation, Idamante is simultaneously the unrequited love-object of Electra.)

This would be done in an a capella mode with 4 unaccompanied voices, to offer the sensibility and depth of operatic singing, and advantages of expressive flexibility and scale. Singers are also instrumentalists. No conductor per se is needed - the musical direction of the piece would be steered by the performers they become a virtuosic chamber vocal group.
Process. Rehearsal would open up the text and music, alighting on the sense of simultaneous emotions (a Mozart speciality,) with a combination of physical relationships (using Contact Improvisation-generated work) and a visual 'telepathy' of cameras used by the performers to illuminate the characters' inner lives.
Performance, lasting 90 min, consists of one 45 min episode experienced in two different ways. (See Visual Attachment URL below) A single space is bisected by a projection surface. On side A the audience is seated at a table, inside a live performance given by 4 singers holding cameras. On side B the audience are aware of the presence of a performance at one remove (eg they hear sounds round the sides of the surface) but their visual experience exists only in the form of a 4 way split screen composite image showing what the singers choose to film. Audiences then switch round, experiencing different forms of contact and interpretation, and perspective.

Experiences of mediation can then be further explored by duplicating performance/audience set-ups elsewhere, using for example peer-to- peer digital links. Simultaneously exchanging video between locations, or playing back pre-recording performance sequences, extends sensations of flexible temporality and spacial interpretation.

This research has two practical perspectives: TV, live performance. For TV this moves away from two existing models: the reportage-style relay of live stage performance, and naturalistic narrative fiction film. It proposes instead that opera on screen could be made by creating a visible boundary of possibility, against which the presence and virtuosity of the performer can register for the general viewer. As live performance, it explores how live media can unpack / repack / translate live experience, and foregrounds the way the audience itself makes sense of what it sees and hears.

TV opera would adapt to many contexts, such as smaller spaces at Opera houses or non-theatre spaces. It could work alone, or as a companion piece for productions of Mozart Operas on the main stage.

Item Type: Performance
Additional Information: Concept, direction, design of new performance work, in development for presentation, in partnership with Aldeburgh Music, Snape Maltings, Suffolk, scheduled for September 2012. Portable, the work is intended for medium scale arts venues, or adapted public spaces of other kinds.
Schools and Departments: School of Media, Film and Music > Music
Related URLs:
Depositing User: Tim Hopkins
Date Deposited: 20 Mar 2012 15:11
Last Modified: 29 Oct 2013 10:54
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