Hot with Excess: A Season of Contemporary Artists’ Opera
A programme of events featuring Sam Belinfante, Beatrice Gibson, Trulee Hall, Richard Kennedy, Benjamin Orlow, Marijke de Roover and Alexandre Singh.
This special season of live events explores the collision of contemporary art and opera. Performances, screenings and discussion reveal how artists working today are commandeering this cultural tradition to propose new hybrid ways of working that resist easy definition.
Hot with Excess: A Season of Contemporary Artists’ Opera launches with a newly commissioned opera by LA-based artist Trulee Hall and includes a 24-hr film work with live augmentations by Benjamin Orlow, a new site specific staging by Sam Belinfante, a fully realised operatic performance of Marijke de Roover’s Live, Laugh, Limerence, as well as screenings from Alexandre Singh and Beatrice Gibson. It culminates in a restaging of Black Rage, the UK-debut of Berlin-based American artist Richard Kennedy. A discursive element organised in partnership with Centre for Audio Visual Experimentation (CAVE) at Leeds University will offer space to reflect and consider the contemporary context for this programme. With eclectic backgrounds in music, composition, film, and visual arts, by way of Hollywood and Broadway, the participating artists’ collaborative and eclectic approaches engage with the designation ‘opera’ in varied and forceful ways.
The embedding of emotionally intense stories in drama, music and the voice is fundamental to the established opera canon. Similarly, this season will explore how personal and political, intimate and global narratives are communicated through these entwined models. While often understood as bombastic and theatrical, it would be too easy to simply label opera as escapism, and this is equally true of these works. This programme invites us into multiple cathartic moments of unrequited love, fury at society’s racial and hetero norms, the messiness of female sexuality, and states of confusion and even boredom, in the face of what it means to be human. These works run counter to social expectations of what is acceptable, they share an excess – of time, aesthetics, bad taste, emotion, memory. They demand our attention and push us to think further than our existing parameters.
Using the Zabludowicz Collection’s scale and architecture, the performances and screenings are free from the formality of the opera house. The programme asks: by reframing the component parts of voice and song, music, libretto, staging and costumes, how far can opera be dissolved and reconfigured? Far from the traditional and assumed inaccessible art form, this programme reconsiders opera’s narratives, structure, production and duration. Freed from its conventions, these artists embrace the idea of opera as the original ‘impure’ form; a parasitic mix of music, dance and theatre. The resulting works are multi-layered, collaborative, celebratory, intense and immersive. They tumble between definitions, while at the same time being many things at once.
Arguably the paradoxical nature of opera – a relic that remains vital, a dead form that continues to thrive – makes it the ultimate art form for our conflicted and divisive world. Hot with Excess: A Season of Contemporary Artists’ Opera offers more than an escape; it offers an audacious platform to confront our fears and desires, and explore a new way of describing who we are and might be.
The programme is curated by Antonia Blocker, Curator: Performance & Engagement at Zabludowicz Collection.
Thursday 12 March, 7pm
Performance: Trulee Hall, Tongues Duel the Corn Whores, an Opera
(£12/£10 conc. seated and £10/£8 conc. standing tickets)
Friday 13 - Saturday 14 March, 6pm – 6pm
24hr Screening: Benjamin Orlow, Horses and Ants: An Opera in Eight Acts with live performances
Sunday 15 March, 3pm
Screening: Alexandre Singh, The Humans
Thursday 19 March, 7pm
Performance: Sam Belinfante, A convenient place for our rehearsal.
Saturday 21 March, 7pm
Performance: Marijke De Roover, Live, Laugh, Limerence
Sunday 22 March, 3pm
Screening: Beatrice Gibson ’if the route’: the great learning of london [a taxi opera] with an introduction by the artist
Thursday 26 March, 7pm
Talk: Panel discussion with Centre for Audio Visual Experimentation (CAVE)
Friday 27 March, 7pm
Performance: Richard Kennedy, Black Rage