The Opera Aperta project has grown out of the Arts Council England funded Recitativo/Clouds and Noise – Fragments After Lucretius and Negri, a video/performance project focusing on text/image/sound. Opera Aperta enlarges the creative parameters of the latter and is initiating several new projects that explore the relation between genres, texts, and approaches to music, sound and image. Opera Aperta has a dual meaning: it translates as ‘open work’, alluding to the famous book of that title by Umberto Eco. This is pertinent in relation to the kinds of scores, work formations, collaboration and libretti that we are putting together. The other meaning is a sense of this openness in relation to ‘opera’ itself as a genre. This is like going back to certain basics for opera: an intermedia relationship between text, image, voice and sound, and an interest in classical as well as modern and contemporary texts, with an elemental approach to materials.
Recent works-in-progress include Aphorisms (2019) and Aphorisms 2 – The Modern Monologue (2020) New – Gertrude Stein Piece (2019/2020) Three Catullus Fragments (2019/2020) and Here and Now (2020).
Flexibility is a key to the work of Opera Aperta. Most of the pieces are simply palettes of materials that can be activated by the demands of a space. The fragments that create these pieces are assembled like archaeological or sculptural found fragments. This means each work has a flexible form resulting in the possibility of many different performing situations: numerous galleries, for example, libraries, lecture theatres, TV Studios, radio broadcasts, and theatres as well as other spaces. We assemble a kind of bespoke version for each space and it can be immersive or intimate as the situation dictates.
The core members of Opera Aperta are:
Cristina Grifone, soprano
Kelcy Davenport, speaker
William Crosby, guitar
Joe Zeitlin, ’cello
Justyna Latoch, video
David Ryan, co-ordinator, direction, composition, video, clarinets
Guest contributors include: Kevin Flanagan, bass clarinet; Krisztian Hoftstadter, electronics, sound projection; Dominic Lash, contrabass, Ian Mitchell, clarinet, bass clarinet; Farah Mulla, field recordings; Leo Oakley, violin; Clare Simmonds, piano; Sally Stenton, speaker; Simon Allen, percussion; Luca Innocenti, organ.
*With thanks to the Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences Research and Innovation fund at Anglia Ruskin University for financial support.