Dhe scenery is conceivably reduced. A singer is sitting across from each other in a white room at a long white table on which lots of disinfectant is draped. Depending on the distance rule, the table can be extended between the two. To Minimal Music à la Philip Glass, the two singing explain terms that we have got used to dealing with, such as superspreader or R-factor. Jenn Kirby calls her short opera “Dichotomies of Lockdown”, in which she addresses the various stages and effects of the lockdown.
Hannah Peel, on the other hand, composed a romance in Corona times. Sam and Andi met on a video platform during the lockdown. Now they meet for the first time in reality. Can there even be such a thing as romance in times of Corona? The date is characterized by many uncertainties, even more than in a corona-free life. They wear gloves at the first touch. And yet you can hear catchy, arioso music. Large opera in small format under pandemic conditions: two singers, four instruments, performed on the large stage of the Dublin Opera in a park setting with leaves on the stage floor, duration eight minutes.
Hannah Peel and Jenn Kirby are two of twenty composers who have composed a short opera for the Irish National Opera in Dublin (INO) project “20 Shots of Opera”. The guidelines were: six to eight minutes and a small cast of both singers and musicians. The INO awarded the commissions to well-known and unknown composers from Ireland.
Effects of a change in communication
The idea for this short opera project came from the Artistic Director of the Irish National Opera, Fergus Sheil. After it became clear to him that the planned new production of Rossini’s “Wilhelm Tell” could not be realized because of Corona, he had the idea of commissioning compositions for twenty short operas, he says. “It was supposed to be just as daring a project as the originally planned production. One that involves just as many people and also has strong artistic expressiveness. Although Ireland does not play a significant role in the field of opera production internationally, we have a lot of composers who are very interested in new opera and who have also created some remarkable works. “
A total of 165 people are involved in these twenty short operas, but in small groups of a maximum of ten to fifteen people. The operas didn’t have to have something to do with the pandemic, but they should deal with our contemporary society. Many operas still deal with the pandemic, it is about lockdown experiences, dealing with distance and isolation, the effects of our changed communication.