Operaimprovisatörerna

Operaimprovisatörerna (OI) is an ensemble with seven opera singers and one pianist. Since the start in 2007, the ensemble has produced 15 performance productions along with some hundreds of performances in festivals, theaters, media, schools, corporate contexts and other. Almost all of the material is live improvised, both music, text and drama. Today the ensemble consists of Gregor Bergman (piano), Linus Flogell, Samuel Jarrick, David Hornwall, Fredrik af Klint, Mette af Klint, Alexandra Orrgård Solén and Sara Wilén. Previous members featured in some of this material are Therese Badman Stenius and Ulrika Skarby.

The responsibility of creating these performative strategies is distributed, so that all the singers (and the pianist from a musicodramatic point of view) share responsibilities and possibilities in shaping the emerging improvisations. In all the performances, the dialogue with the audience is central, since they are invited as co-creators, giving suggestions during the performance through various technical and communicational solutions. Creating the performative framework of the performance, with respect to the artistic goals of the production at hand and the audience reactions is a line of constant negotiation within the ensemble, both during rehearsals and preparations and in play during the live performances. As the stage light is also improvised during the productions, the dramatic interaction with the light designer is crucial in the emerging improvisations.

The first years were focused on creating performance concepts investigating the new artistic format of operatic improvisation, developing techniques of dramaturgy, musical and dramatic stage improvisation inspired by tonal languages and styles from the Western classical/art song repertoire. The members are all classically trained singers and musicians, and techniques of improvisation started in the dramatic work, letting the music emerge as a result of the ongoing dialogues on parallell levels, or layers. In 2009, a concept inspired with music by Mozart was created. In 2010, the concept Moments of Opera adressed ways of adressing and reflecting live told stories and memories from the audience. 2011 Pure and simple Opera a production investigated the possibilities of interacting with several musicians and techniques of short cut story telling. In Opera Nova – power, love, remix (ON) 2012 Oi investigated performative strategies of performing images of gender and power on the operatic stage with body and voice mixing and remixing repertoire and improvisation.  2014 Oi developed a concept for live improvisation with conductor and orchestra: Last Minute – an Opera Adventure! (LM) see below. In Opera Nova for young people (ONY), I together with Alexandra Orrgård Solén took the ON-concept further, by using a theory of group interactional functions including interactive work shops for 14-year old students. 2016 Gravity of Life (GoL) was developed and performed as a collaboration with composer, conductors and choirs, se further below.

YearProductionFocus area
2007Maybe an opera?fundamental skills of opera improvisation
2009Maybe Mozart?style improvisation, dramaturgy
2010-2011Moments of Operaaudience interaction
2011Pure and simple Operadramaturgy, musical collaboration
2012Opera Nova - love, power, remixrepertoire, power and gender, symbol level
2014, 2016Last Minute - an Opera Adventure!!repertoire, musical collaboration, structure level
2015Opera Nova for young peoplerepertoire, power and gender, symbol level
2016-17Gravity of Lifenew music, musical collaboration, structure level

An overview of the productions shows a development where focus has drawn versus investigating performative aspects of the practice and the relations to repertoire. The first three productions (2007-2009) focus development of skills, whereas the fourth (2011) apart from this focus also expanded in inviting new musicians into the musical improvisation. In the last three productions (2012-2016), two strands emerge. First, a more clear direction versus adressing vocal repertoire and composition, and second, the interest in investigating the performative frames of the operatic improvisation situations by i) investigating and playing with norms and habits of performing gender and power on stage, and ii) expanding the work into interfaces with other musical actors such as orchestral musicians, choir singers and conductors.