It is also the first opera shot on an iPhone.
Operas are one of the many industries hit hard by the pandemic, considering that audiences and performers need to adhere to social distancing. Determined not to let this get in the way of creating a great opera experience, conductor Olver Zeffman commissioned the first for a socially distanced world. Titled ‘Eight Songs From Isolation’, eight leading composers wrote an opera made specifically for streaming.
The composers chose eight texts on isolation, which draw from experience during the past few months. It will also be the first opera shot on iPhone, taking you on a visual journey through evolving representations of isolation. Directed by Billy Boyd Cape, Eight Songs From Isolation will be available to stream exclusively on Apple Music.
Zeffman conducted the Academy of St Martin in the Fields along with leading opera singers that include Sarah Connolly, Iestyn Davies, Sophie Bevan, and two winners of the BBC Cardiff Singer of the World Competition. Zeffman conducted the orchestra inside a studio with everyone attending virtually. The singers then filed their parts in their home using an iPhone 11 Pro.
“Crises have often been the catalyst for artists to develop not only new work but also new ways of working. The current pandemic gripping the world has made impossible the two fundamental requirements of most art forms – the interaction of artists with each other, and between artists and audiences. Rather than trying to repurpose something written in another context, I felt it artistically imperative to commission something that is very much of and for our current situation that speaks to the shared experience we are all going through. Music is the great unifier and I wish to thank everyone who came together with such enthusiasm and commitment to create a new opera that we hope will resonate with audiences and bring people together around the world,” Zeffman said in a statement.
Eight Songs From Isolation consists of:
Thomas Adès: Gyökér by Miklós Radnóti, sung in Hungarian by Katalin Károlyi
Nico Muhly: New-Made Tongue by Thomas Traherne, sung in English by Iestyn Davies
Helen Grime: Prayer by Carol Ann Duffy, sung in English by Sarah Connolly
Huw Watkins: How by Philip Larkin, sung in English by Toby Spence
Du Yun: Sound Reawakening with her own text co-authored Yang Nan, sung in Mandarin by Shenyang
Freya Waley-Cohen: Spell for Reality by Rebecca Tamás, sung in English by Julia Bullock
Ilya Demutsky: the words of Alexey Barishnikov as he held up a Russian bank at the height of lockdown, sung in Russian by Andrei Kymach
Julian Anderson: a letter he received during lockdown from composer Ahmed Essyad, sung in French by Sophie Bevan