Opera House | Performative Art Installation (2016)


opera house
Wojtek Blecharz (composer)
Ewa Maria Śmigielska (sculptor)
Zofia Cielatkowska (curator)

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opera house




Opera house is a space of the sound or the architecture of the sound. The general idea of the exhibition could be described as an experience of the materiality of the sound: hearing and perceiving. According to the origin of the word opera, it means a composition, work of art, work about the sound or – more precisely – work made through the sound. A term ‘house’ included in the name, emphasizes intimacy and collectiveness of this experience – the act of meeting in a specific space and time. The heart of the opera house belongs to the large scale object – a module construction that trembles and resonates in accordance with the scenario, concept and movement of the visitors. Opera house relays on the formal structure of the opera form – its composition consists of such elements as #overture, #object, #orchestra, #recitative, #aria, #choir, #techno-ballet – yet, at the same time, opera house presents critical approach and redefinition of this genre of music.

sound as material
Nowadays a recorded sound – in a very literal meaning – becomes a synonym of the matter. The sound stands for the material; a base for creating and editing. Then, on the other hand, visual objects exist as the source of the sound, they can generate the movement.

object as the heart of the opera
Large scale construction, an object-sculpture made of metal and mirror sheets is the heart of the opera house. It perceives, it has an impact on the visitors: their movement, their emotions and bodies. The object-sculpture trembles and clangs in relation to space and light. The object draws attention to the materiality of the sound.

opera as a meeting
Opera belongs to the music genre, which in the XX and XXI century has gone through – and is still going – multilayered redefinition. Nowadays there are many different meanings and forms of the opera, however, a traditional understanding dominates. If we look at the history of this music genre, what we see reminds of a hybrid structure. The history unveils an opera as an ambiguous form full of colour and diversity. It also unveils opera as a place for the meeting. Opera house relates to that hybrid history and draws attention to the meaning of the opera as experience and presence. It emphasizes that an opera is a place for a social meeting.

opera as a critical approach
The concept of the opera house spreads from the belief, that in contemporary society there is no place for collective listening. Opera house creates a space for the contemplation of the sound. The critical implication of the project appears on different levels. Firstly, the opera house replaces individual and body-alienating (non-corporal) listening with collective experience. Secondly, on the architecture level, instead of the usual theatre-temple like building, opera takes place in a flat, simple structure of the pavilion. Then last but not least, the opera house stands as a critique of the precipitous and random way of perceiving art.

The dramaturgy of the opera house correlates to the large format construction. The score and choreography of the performance relate to the visitors – their presence is marked by the trembling and resonating object. The viewer within the opera might be a musician, singer or a dancer. He or she can actively participate in the performance, experience it, relate one with another, contemplate or just observe. Full opera piece lasts 4 hours and is performed twice a day. Before entering the opera space, the viewer gets a leaflet with a full schedule of the performance.

Opera house does not resign from the formal structure of the traditional opera but proposes its new, contemporary interpretation. The piece has the same beginning and ending; it starts with #overture and ends with #techno-ballet. All of the other elements of the opera house are treated in a non-linear way – they can overlap, pervade and resonate between each other.

#overture (1)
Overture prepares all of the senses and the body for the perception of the work; it is composed of the series of exercises which are suppose to extend consciousness and reception. The visitors can play on the object – the space inflates with resonance.  

Large scale object-sculpture brings a critical approach to the traditional meaning of stage design (mise-en-scène). Here, in the opera house, the sculpture is the heart of the opera – it is the source and receptor of the sound. Contact microphones and transducers placed directly on the object amplify the sound which is visible on the ground projection.

The object-sculpture construction functions as a musical instrument and resonator. The visitors become the musician of the orchestra; people can play together, they can relate to the resonance of the construction. 

#recitative (4)
In the opera, house recitative takes a form of collective reading, whispering and articulation of the texts. The sound creates a kind of a cloud resonating with the object and voices from the news.

#aria (5)
A viewer – instructed by the audio guide – works with his/her voice by shouting, intonating or singing pieces from the opera arias. The microphones with delay placed in the space are looping the voices.

This part can be described as collective contemplation of the sound. The choir intonates simple drones – long single tones and tunes in to the surrounding. The sound creates a harmonic structure with the object and environment.

This part functions like music and light performance inviting visitors to dance. In this last act, the sound somehow goes back to the material or the matter; the body unites with the sound.

Open form
Opera house works as an open form; using the materiality of the sound – hearing and perceiving, it shows the consequences of participation and isolation. Opera house comes into being as much as the viewer allows his self/herself to act. It emphasizes the impact of a gesture, even a minimal one – or the luck of a gesture – on reality.


The project is site-specific (possible visualisation below)


#  | bio

Wojtek Blecharz (composer)
Born in Gdynia (Poland) in 1981, in 2006 he graduated with honours from Frederic Chopin Music Academy in Warsaw (Master of Arts), in 2015 received a Ph. D. in music composition at University of California San Diego. Since 2012 Blecharz has been curating the Instalakcje music festival at Warsaw’s Nowy Theatre, featuring non-concert music: sound installations, performance installations, sound sculptures, music videos, music theatre and others.

Blecharz has also directed both of his opera-installations Transcryptum (2013) commissioned by Grand Theater National Opera in Warsaw and Park-Opera (2016) commissioned by Theater Powrzechny in Warsaw. Currently preparing the third opera installation Body-Opera commissioned by Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival (premiere November 2016).

In 2012, he received a scholarship prize “for perfection in music composition” at the International Summer Courses for New Music in Darmstadt, and in 2013 he was selected as one of winners of the IMPLUS International Composition Competition in Graz. In 2012 he was nominated for the Passport Award for classical music of the Polityka weekly, in 2013 – to the PKN Orlen Prize “Poles with Verve” in Art and Culture and to the Polish Radio Channel Three Yearly Award “Culture Man of the Year.” In 2013 his opera Transcryptum commissioned by Grand Theater National Opera in Warsaw was nominated to cultural event of 2013 in Gazeta Wyborcza Daily referendum Wdechy. In 2015 a theater/choir piece with Blecharz’s music Mutter Courage und ihre Hunden directed by Marta Górnicka, commissioned by Staadtstheater Bruswick was acclaimed as one of the best 60 performances in Germany. In 2016 received a music theater award for the best Best Performance of Contemporary Play (Warsaw/Wałbrzych).

Recently composed pieces for Kwadrofonik Ensemble (Warsaw), Forbidden City Chamber Orchestra (Beijing), Klangforum Wien (Vienna), Royal String Quartet (Warsaw), Aviva Endean (Melbourne), International Contemporary Ensemble (New York), Musiques Nouvelles (Brussels). Recently his works were performed at Warsaw Autumn Festival, Salzburg Biennale, Museum of Modern Art in Tel Aviv, Bendigo International Festival of Exploratory Music (Australia), MATA Festival (New York), Mostly Mozart Festival (New York), Klangwerkstadt (Berlin) and others.

Recently, Blecharz premiered his new installation Axis commissioned by Goethe Institute in Warsaw and Polish Institute in Berlin, opera-installation Park-Opera composed and directed for a specific acoustic environment of one of the parks in Warsaw, new piece for Syrian and western instruments Music for invisible places, commissioned by International Contemporary Ensemble to celebrate to 50th anniversary of Lincoln Center in New York

Ewa Maria Śmigielska (sculptor)
Ewa Maria Śmigielska (born in 1987) graduated with honors from the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw at the Faculty of Sculpture in Professor Grzegorz Kowalski’s Atelier of Audiovisual Space. She completed the annex to the diploma in the Drawing Studio of Professor Zofia Glazer-Rudzińska. Currently she works at the Faculty of Media Art of the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw.

She is the author of scenography, costumes and the co-author of a video to an opera – Transkryptum – that was directed by Wojtek Blecharz and which was exhibited at the National Opera in Warsaw in 2013. Co-curator and participant of national exhibitions as well as those abroad, amongst others: Wybór Narzędzia inside the Spokojna Gallery in Warsaw (2012), the Polish part of the exhibition in Copenhagen It’s hardly softcore inside the BUS Garage (2011), as well as the II edition of the exhibition Zmiana Medium inside the BWA Gallery in Jelenia Góra (2011). Among a few of the other exhibitions she has participated in: the V International Drawing Competition Wrocław 2012, Kowalski Gutt dwie pracownie at the Salon Akademii Gallery in Warsaw, Regress Progress – The Architecture of Performance at the CCA Ujazdowski Castle, the exhibition Sequences at the Society for the Encouragement of the Fine Arts in Lublin, not to mention the Instalakcje Music Festival at the Nowy Theatre in Warsaw in 2013. She took in a section of students representing Poland at the Prague Quadrennial of Performance Design and Space.

What is more, Ewa Śmigielska curated KOWALNIA exhibition in Katowice Ars Cameralis Festival atRondo Sztuki Gallery and BWA (2014), participated in in the project of Realisation of medals with prisoners of the remand in Białołęka the Culture House Foundation (2015). Recently, she within the frame of Avant Art. Festival in Moscow, she presented Space|volume|Body project (2016).

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