Meet the Faces of New Opera



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 event begins Wednesday at 10am in the Sarasota Opera House Kamlet Library. Open and free to the public, tickets are not required but admittance is first come, first serve.

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