Opera + Classical Music Features

#OperaHarmony: Opera in the Time of Coronavirus

Homemade ‘micro-operitas’ pair composers with librettists to create pieces on the themes of distance or community

‘It is better to light a candle than curse the darkness’ is a proverb many of us may cling to in these current times. However, regarding one initiative to combat the lack of live performance opportunities, it may be less a case of igniting a single wick than letting off an entire firework display.

This is because #OperaHarmony has seen the opportunity to assemble teams from across the globe to create all new homemade ‘micro-operitas’ to be shared online. It is providing the framework whereby composers can be paired with librettists to create pieces on the themes of distance or community, while receiving ongoing support. They will then be matched with directors and singers to record and turn their micro-operita into an online reality that can be shared with the world.

This entirely innovative way of creating networks at a distance is the brainchild of the current Stage Director of the International Opera Awards, Ella Marchment. Marchment has worked for the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, the Julliard School, Dutch National Opera, Wexford Festival Opera, the Royal College of Music and Bury Court Opera as both a director and teacher. Through her organisation, Helios Collective, she has engaged over 1,500 artists in making opera, and commissioned numerous new operas and plays, many of which have been endorsed and hosted by English National Opera.

So how did the idea come about? Marchment says “The other day I was thinking about how we could still make art together even through these difficult circumstances, how we can use this forced separation to bring us closer”. She has always been committed to giving people opportunities to create art, irrespective of experience, and her interest in commissioning originated from a desire to give artists a step onto the career ladder. However, “in this situation where we now have no apparent stage and are all in the same boat, the idea is to create networks between all those invested in creating opera and plant the seed for new professional relationships that have the potential to grow further once we are out of this situation”.

It is seems safe to say that even Marchment was not quite prepared for the level of interest that a single post on Facebook, in which she initially suggested the idea, received. Approximately one new team is now being created every day, and we cannot wait to see the results of their endeavours over the coming weeks and months. For further information visit the #OperaHarmony Facebook page, and if you would like to find out more about becoming a contributor yourself please email operaharmony2020@gmail.com.

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#OperaHarmony: Opera in the Time of Coronavirus