When opera becomes an icon of authenticity
Earlier this year, a certain photographer of influencer status decided to work some digital imaging magic into stock photos. The result: breath-taking shots that transported viewers and had them almost feel the breeze in Santorini, and smell the cherry blossoms of Japan’s spring.
The unexpected response: public furore over what was deemed as deliberate deception by the social media influencer. The outcry is perhaps a reflection of people’s fatigue of the hyperbolic, and a craving for the real in an age of the hyper-curated and digitally enhanced.
Cue L’arietta, a Singapore-based chamber opera group that seeks to use the power of the human voice to tell genuine, resonant stories that evoke a gamut of feelings from sorrow and fury to greed and glee.
The group, whose name means “a little song” in Italian, goes a step further to heighten the experience of the live and authentic by making their operas intimate affairs. It opts for performances with a personal feel that are set in contemporary contexts, rather than grand, classical productions.
Its upcoming trio of chamber operas, Singapore Trilogy, is in this vein. It pays homage to our national obsessions of kopi, food and shopping, while also inviting introspection on the stages of a person’s life and the endurance of relationships.
Its opera productions are also multi-sensorial in nature and feature elements beyond music and singing. For example, its Peranakan adaptation of famed Irish writer W. B. Yeats’ Purgatory last year included elements of live painting, as well as poetry reading and traditional dance.
Every story L’arietta tells is also bite-sized – under an hour, paced to suit the millennial viewer’s preference, and all the while striving to preserve emotional depth.
If there is any time for opera, it is now, in the Fourth Industrial Revolution, where machine learning and predictive technology are de rigueur, and there is newfound hunger for personal connections and emotional clarity.