I’m part of a research-creation team led by Eldad Tsabary (Concordia University). We’ve just released our first mini-opera: Personal Pandemic. This was entirely created, rehearsed, and recorded during lockdown. Nobody was ever able to be in the same room together. I think the results are excellent–the concept is that the viewer sees the lead character’s desk top, experiencing the story through her music production and messaging. The opera uses classic bel canto opera as well as hip hop, and incorporates choral components.
I am so proud to be a part of this project, bending the rules of opera, and really pushing the envelope on what can be produced in collaboration across social distancing measures. The piece is 23 minutes, available on Youtube. I’d love to know your thoughts!
Music by Tim Brady, and lyrics by John Sobel and Naika Champaigne, with extraordinary performances by Naika, Fredericka Petit-Homme, and Marie-Annick Béliveau.
I rehearsed and conducted the virtual choir that provided the choral work as well as vocal textures in the sound design. Choristers were Laurier music students and community members, and we rehearsed everything remotely. My deep thanks to the singers, and especially to Cynthia Kinnunen, my Research Assistant (and who also is an incredible ukulele educator!).
Personal Pandemic is the first of a series of mini-operas that our research creation team will produce between now and 2025. The five-year project is called RISE: Reflective Iterative Scenario Re-enactments. The interdisciplinary team focuses on future cataclysms, and we are combining community music and opera development to explore catastrophes like environmental crises, artificial intelligence, and, of course, pandemics. Check out riseopera.ca for more information about future work.