I recently gave a talk about my opera project at the 4th NEGEM 2022 Symposium. The symposium took place on the 23rd and 24th September in a hybrid format, and I had the pleasure of joining online (straight after a job interview!). The symposium was international and hosted by the Colégio Almada Negreiros in Lisbon, and this year’s theme was ‘Intersections’. The programme brought together students and collaborating researchers, as well as members from the Centre for Studies in Gender and Music.
I was asked questions about my opera and I found the talk very interesting. We discussed how one might go about rethinking opera in terms of gender, and especially in relation to traditional opera narratives. We also discussed trans voices and the traditional gendering of voice. I found it very useful to talk through my ideas with some people outside the project. I also found what we discussed related a lot to my recent series on Operatic Voices which is being released from September until January on my YouTube channel (shameless plug, I guess: go watch my series on the Operatic Voice).
Also, our short documentary about our workshops in the Gulbenkian Foundation were shown to attendees of the symposium. You can view this video here.
After this documentary was shown, I was asked to talk about the link between my research and practice, as well as my vision for this opera. I was also asked about how it ‘rethinks’ traditional opera. I was also asked about the relationship between gender and voice, and how my opera explores this relationship. I was also asked what it was like to write for trans voices.
I was also asked to talk about the integration of pop music and gay anthems in the opera, how they were integrated musically and the significance of including them at all. I was also asked to talk about the headphone part (especially how this can be used to represent inner thoughts and personality and the conflict between this and the outer world) and the notion of effectively writing two (or three) operas simultaneously (three if you include the combination of the headphones AND what is happening live in the space). An interesting point that the host made was that the headphones part mirrors the act of wearing headphones in public today: people escape their reality by playing music, in their head they can be somewhere else. I am effectively allowing the audience to experience the protagonist’s inner thoughts by forcing them to put on headphones that change their space. I’m making a note of this point here in this blog because it’s interesting to think about, and might prove to have more relevance as the opera develops.
Finally, because it’s quite amusing, here’s an image of my face on a big screen in the Colégio Almada Negreiros in Lisbon.