[vc_row][vc_column][ultimate_heading main_heading=”Finding a Home Outside of the House: Opera in Unusual Places”][/ultimate_heading][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/4″][vc_single_image image=”1458″ img_size=”medium”][vc_video link=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t7BrIUeTYxw”][vc_video link=”https://vimeo.com/57364457″][vc_video link=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7NcCNAmXQDA”][/vc_column][vc_column width=”3/4″][vc_column_text]by Claire Mathieson
While the Elks Ballroom may seem like an unusual place to put on an opera, it is not the only unconventional setting in which one can watch the traditional art. Here are some other bizarre stages, found as close as Oakland and as far away as the stratosphere – and beyond.
Oakland, CA West Edge Opera put on its 2016 summer season in the abandoned 16th street train station, to rave reviews. It wasn’t the first time the station had been repurposed as a shelter for musical projects – part of the movie Rent was filmed there, and people with artistic visions continue to roll through the station, giving the building its very own vie bohème.
Dresden, Germany AquAria Palaoa – The Age of the World II, a part-land, part-underwater opera, premiered on the banks of – and in – the River Elbe in 2012. In an incredible performance, soprano Claudia Herr – followed into the water by cameras – alternated breathing from an oxygen mask and removing her mouthpiece to sing. The opera was performed in memory of those killed by flooding in Saxony a decade before.
Europe Opera in Space, founded in 2010, makes a point of finding interesting places for its performances. “We aim to be site-responsive – incorporating the found space into our work.” They say on their website. “So far, we have transformed an art gallery, a castle, a Georgian town house in the centre of London, and warehouses in Peckham and Berlin.” The company’s goal is not to butcher the original work for the sake of modernity but to highlight the timeless beauty of an opera’s story and sounds by way of a different lens.
The Airspace Between Munich, Germany and Verona, Italy On certain 2014 Air Dolomiti flights, the stars of the Arena di Verona’s season unfastened their seatbelts to perform La Traviata’s “Brindisi” in the aisles. Air Dolomiti has a strong relationship with the Arena di Verona, promoting travel to its summer festival. Whether or not a particular flight gets serenaded, all of the airline’s planes are touched by opera – each aircraft is named after the opera of an Italian composer.
Moffett Field, CA At once close to home and light-years away, the International Space Orchestra performed Ground Control: An Opera in Space at NASA’s Ames Research Center in 2012. The orchestra – whose players are all space scientists – presented a musical recreation of Apollo 11’s mission control in front of the largest wind tunnel on the planet.
As these examples show, opera is no longer confined to the house – or even to land or to Earth. There is a beautiful movement of modern opera bursting at the curtains’ seams to continue bringing an eternal art to a changing world. In January, when Don Pasquale debuts in the Elks Ballroom, it will join the ranks of operas being performed in bold and non-traditional settings, weaving past with future in a new home. [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]