Illuminating the Mind: researching performance; performing research

A collaboration with The Opera Group’s Future Bodies

Monday, 26 March 2012

18.30-20.30, The Anatomy Theatre and Museum, King’s College, London

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Boris BlacherBoris Blacher: Abstrakte Oper Nr I, 1953: ‘schmerz’

Etoile Chaville (singer/dancer); Dan Large (lighting)
Frederic Wake-Walker (Artistic Director)

Speaker(s): Edward Campbell (University of Aberdeen), Charlotte de Mille (The Courtauld Institute of Art), Frederic Wake-Walker (The Opera Group)

Ticket/entry details: Open to all, free admission but numbers are limited. Advance booking required:

Organised by:
Dr Charlotte de Mille (The Courtauld Institute of Art) with the Opera Group

Illuminating the Mind presents the discoveries from a week of performance research by a diverse range of practitioners exploring sensation, disorder, and the relationship between visual and aural aesthetics. The project takes as a case-study an extract of a piece by one of the most significant post-war German composers, Boris Blacher. Trained as an architect before assuming the directorship of the Berlin Academy of Music, Blacher is a composer intimately acquainted with the challenges of audio-visual work. Abstrakte Oper Nr I offers a profound assessment of the operatic genre in the 1950s. Synchronic and non-narrative, the opera combines abstraction with the figurative expressionism of its seven scenes, which chart a cyclic process through a range of emotional experience. Blacher’s emotive essentialism and tonal disorientation combine to express the (dis-)integration of mind and body. Explored through the site-specific venue of KCL’s Anatomy Theatre and Museum, the workshop dissects an ‘anatomy’ of human emotion, where internal and external states are inverted, individual and cultural experiences confused, and sensation performed.

We focus in depth on the second scene of Abstrakte Oper Nr I, ‘Schmerz’, which will be contextualized by responses from three speakers. This is preliminary research for the British première of the opera as part of the Opera Group’s Future Bodies in 2014.

The event has been made possible by the generous support of the London Centre for Arts and Cultural Exchange in collaboration with The Opera Group’s funders, The Arts Council and The Jerwood Foundation.

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