BY PHILIP LEDERER SRQ DAILY FRESHLY SQUEEZED CONTENT EVERY MORNING TUESDAY OCT 27, 2015
The Hermitage Artist Retreat and the Sarasota Opera join forces tomorrow morning at the Sarasota Opera House for a special presentation from production designer Elle Kunnos de Voss and composer Mikael Karlsson, currently composing the contemporary opera The Echo Drift at the Hermitage as the first recipients of the American Opera Projects/Hermitage Opera Genesis Fellowships. After a meet-and-greet over coffee, Sarasota Opera Executive Director Richard Russell will interview the pair within the intimate atmosphere of the Kamlet Library, where the artists will share insights into their process, their work and the world of contemporary opera.
“It’s a format that needs to be revamped,” said Karlsson of the opera tradition. With The Echo Drift, a modern opera and ‘mystery monodrama’ inspired by the philosophical exploration of time and Nietzschean concepts such as eternal recurrence, he and Kunnos de Voss hope to not only push the boundaries of operatic content, but form as well, playing with non-linearity and non-present characters. “What we thought about a lot was how we can make the format more flexible, and how we can expand the world of storytelling with simple means?” continued Kunnos de Voss.
It’s a movement already blossoming in New York, they agree, but none of this is to replace the traditional operas, instead serving as a complement, and one that could perhaps entice that younger audience not yet sold on the old style, “and hopefully bring them into the grand opera tradition as well,” said Karlsson.
“We are becoming more and more aware of the large number of new operas being written and produced around the country,” said Bruce E. Rodgers, executive director of the Hermitage. “We hope this partnership will help cast a light on new work, as Sarasota Opera buffs learn more about what living artists are creating.”
As to her experience creating at the Hermitage, “We can’t imagine a greater place,” said Kunnos de Voss. “It’s really incredible.”
The Hermitage Artist Retreat in collaboration with the American Opera Projects (AOP), a developer of new operatic and musical theater works with young and aspiring artists in New York City, have announced the recipients of the first annual Opera Genesis Fellowships: composer Mikael Karlsson and librettist and visual designer Elle Kunnos de Voss. To be presented every year to graduates of AOP's composer and voice program, recipients will be given a six-week residency at the Hermitage campus to work on their newest opera production and/or concept.
"The Hermitage was in discussions with AOP for many months before announcing this partnership," says Bruce E. Rodgers, executive director of the Hermitage. "Seeing the program come into being with the announcement of the first recipients is very exciting. We exist to inspire and assist artists in the creation of new work. AOP takes it to the next level so that work can be presented to the public."
Karlsson and Kunnos de Voss are young and successful artists in their respective fields. Both hail from New York City by way of Sweden and will be collaborating on their newest work, "The Echo Drift," while residing at the Hermitage.