Operatic tradition vs. an approach toward an “interactive music theatre”
– a guest blog by Thanos Polumeneas Liontris
This short text is a reflection on contemporary approaches to Music Theatre. In order not to cause misunderstandings I need to clarify that by music theatre I do not mean Musical i.e. the performances one can see in West End and Broadway, but rather experimental music theatre performances that derive from the classical, modernist (and post-modern?) tradition and have a direct historical link with opera aesthetics
My current artistic research focuses on questioning notions like operatic singing and scenic behaviour; theatricality; stylisation; intentionality of gesture; advisability of narrative; closed form; determinate material; audience in “fourth wall”.
Opera throughout its course has been traditionally bound up with such notions that pertain in contemporary music theatre and that I’m interested in challenging. Particularly with regard to singing, employing a technique that was devised for specific purposes (i.e. large concert hall acoustics, prevailing aesthetics of the era) seems no longer relevant when applied to current new media performances.
Instead, in the performance I devised as part of my Blast Theory residency we get
A. One that behaves as an instrument: it reacts (through multiple sensors) to the coexistence of the performers and the audience and processes the live electronic sound
B. One where the use of a joystick by the spectator manipulates both the singer’s amplified voice and the projection of her image. Hence, we experience technology and sound mediating between audience and performers.
2. An installation structure, both in the way the audience experiences the space and because of the kaleidoscopic occurrences that have neither beginning nor end (no rationale).
3. Three personages that have Heiner Müller’s Despoiled Shore and Landscape with Argonauts as a departure point:
A. A dancer [the Argonauts] that attempts to move but not dance – that is, to be with her body without contextualizing it
B. A musician/actor [Jason] that attempts to play/speak but not to act – that is, to have the role become himself and not vice versa
C. A singer [Medea] that immerses in voice improvisation without entering the realm of interpretation