Time plan and realisation of the project

During 2015, I worked closely with the composer and the project leader, further conceptualising ideas of a thematic content for the operatic concept. In this way, we could share and develop musical as well as dramatic ideas from very early in the process, and develop materials designed for the two musical approaches in the project: interpretation and improvisation. The idea was to start the operas in the same way in every performance. We needed a concept that was open enough to allow improvisation to take place, where the opera at hand could take a starting point from the ideas and suggestions from the audience and to path in whichever direction the improvisers chose during the performance. Still, the concept needed to be clear enough to give the composer inspiration and starting points in her artistic process of creating the written parts of the music.

The composer found the metaphor of gravity useful and in dialogue with me and the project leader, she began to work on three contrasting movements related to this metaphor in the context of classical dramaturgy, with beginning, middle and end. Early in the spring, Oi had the first session with the composer, where she

presented earlier work and ways of working with the compositional process. Emanuelsson also introduced the idea for the singers to use stones as instruments in the written parts. Together we worked on developing some musical material as suggested by her (layers of chords, a scale with hig four and low seven and rhythms in septuple meter). Later, the project leader collected relevant thematic words from the ensemble members, edited and shaped by Mette ad Klint into lyrics for the three parts. The written parts are not included in the opera narrative, but have a rather open character, addressing existensial questions, as in an oratorio.

I: Livets ständiga gungfly (Life’s eternal quagmire)

Weightlessness – We don’t know yet, the question is in the air

                 II: I stormens öga  (In the eye of the storm)

– Tension piles up and is released

III: I universums tyngdlösa famn (In the weightless bosom of the universe)  

Time rolls on as we lick our wounds


The initial work sessions

The very first sessions took place in OI’s studio at Sigtunagatan in Stockholm. The ensemble met Emanuelsson who presented some of her earlier works, describing her work methods and use of certain structures, such as specific scales, rhythms, concepts of movement and instrumentation/sound. We also presented our way of working and invited her to join us in some improvisational techniques, in order to get an experience of the work ”from the eye of the actor”. Emanuelsson presented some sketches for GoL, which we used in experimental work on the floor, both musical and dramatic improvisations.

During the early spring, project leader/choreographer Mette af Klint and I had several brainstormning discussions with both composer Ulrika Emauelsson and physical actor/clown Camilla Persson in order to create new improvisational techniques and lines of thought. The work with the techniques came to follow two strands, abstract and realistic formats. In OI, the most common scenic formats are founded in a realistic acting tradition, taking its vantage point in situated action in a dramatic situation and a linear dramaturgy. There are some exceptions in terms of techniques which are popular within the ensemble, and we work towards creating more stylized formats, inspired by for instance movement. However, a more modernistic, non-mimetic point of departure has proved quite hard to establish, even as an alternative technique. I think this is partly due to the fact that the ensemble has worked mainly with tonal, situated improvisation for almost ten years. OI’s practice stands in constant dialogue with up for the classical music performance tradition, for instance in the Mozart-inspired concepts that is a substantial part of the group’s work . We have earlier focused the work performance tradition, including standard opera repertoire in projects such as Opera Nova (2012), Sista Minuten (2014, 2016) and Opera Nova for Young people. However, in order to develop new artistic strategies on stage, we needed to take it through the body, which was one of the reasons to work with Persson. She offered the ensemble new perspectives on our individual bodily work on stage, as well as new exercises deriving from physical theater, clown and modern dance.

In sessions at the Inter Arts Center in Malmö, we designed a two-day workshop, including a performance, for six choirs in Malmö/Lund and the Stockholm regions, with the following choirs. Four of the ensembles were semi-professional choirs on a high level, and two were college (gymnasie-) choirs with music as profile.

3-4 September Lindebergska Aulan, Lund

Carolinae Damkör and Svanholm Singers, conductor: Sofia Söderberg

26-27 October, Magle Konserthus, Lund

Lars Erik Larsson-gymnasiets kör, conductor: Sofia Söderberg

10-11 November, Danderyds Gymnasiums Aula, Stockholm

Danderyds Gymnasiums kör, conductor: Anders Henriksson

2-4 December, Hjorthagens kyrka, Stockholm

Hjorthagens Vokalensemble, conductor: Karin Oldgren

28-29 January, Norrtälje

Roslagens Vokalensemble, conductor Lena Anstey