On Tuesday, over 250 artists will come together online to stage composer Pauline Oliveros’s open-form piece “The Lunar Opera; Deep Listening For_Tunes.”
The collaborative performance was borne in the wake of closures and cancellations due to the COVID-19 outbreak and will support musicians affected by the shutdown. While “feeling the chilling effects of lockdown,” Opera Povera founder Sean Griffin took to social media to express interest in performing one of Oliveros’s works while self-isolating.
“A number of people said let’s do it,” Griffin recalled in a statement. “Madeline Falcone from CalArts and Seth Brodsky from the Gray Center chimed in and here we are.”
Timed to stream during Tuesday’s full moon and titled “Full Pink Moon: Opera Povera in Quarantine,” the piece will take place April 7 from 9 p.m. to 3 a.m. EDT and will be available on YouTube, Facebook and the opera company’s website. A pre-opera discussion will be held an hour before the start of the performance and will be hosted by Ron Athey, George Lewis, Sean Griffin, Dana Reason and Miya Masaoka, along with guest curators and artists.
Griffin describes the piece — debuted by Oliveros in 2000 — as a “participation opera.” The performers will separately create their characters, costumes and movements based on sounds and cues individual to each person.
“We are in a time of isolation but we can be deeply connected right now by that separation we feel by reaching out,” Griffin said. “It is important to understand that Oliveros’s opera is not a spectator’s opera, rather, it is a vast participatory operatic landscape of moon-drunk people in a fictional space of free expression and listening. Oliveros’s work addresses interaction between people is something extremely valuable in contemporary music and perhaps very suited to our current realignment of social engagement.”
What viewers can expect to see is a livestream of the full cast together on Zoom, intercut with curated sections that feature smaller ensemble groups. “This livestream version of ‘Full Pink Moon,’” the website explains, “focuses on the bringing together of our creative community during a time when many are suffering from unprecedented change and uncertainty.”
Presented by CalArts and the University of Chicago’s Gray Center for Arts and Inquiry, the online gathering also serves as a fundraiser. While the opera is free to stream, event organizers stated that those who wish to make donations can do so through the Equal Sound Corona Relief Fund or the Opera Povera page. Donations made directly to Opera Povera will go toward supporting “Full Pink Moon” production costs, while contributions to Equal Sound support musicians who have lost income due to canceled performances.
“Over the last couple weeks we have seen our artistic community come together during this time of extreme uncertainty and, for many of us, indefinite loss of our livelihoods,” Falcone said. “We are showing up for each other. The artists in ‘Full Pink Moon’ are searching for ways to continue their creative work through this period of isolation, and we humbly ask in the spirit of the work to consider a donation if you have the resources to help our community of musicians.”
“Full Pink Moon” represents the first livestream to be presented as part of “Gray Sound Sessions,” a new weekly series launched by Gray Center. Future events will continue to take place on the Gray Center’s site every Tuesday.
Top Image: Dramaturgical Sketches for "Full Pink Moon," Opera Povera by Sean Griffin.