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It seems a paradox to think that opera can reflect today’s world, since it’s been mostly replaced by musical comedies. But think again: opera isn’t dead. Anthony Heidweller is a baritone aware of the importance of art in our lives. He believes in its educational power and shows a commitment to making art evolve in its time and more precisely spread the idea that opera’s far from being dead, and can still tell our actual story.
Opera is the sound of a child just born, of a person who is dying, of an orgasm…
Why is opera so different from musical comedy or theater? It’s neither about looking for an actor, nor an artist or a special sound, but authenticity. “Opera is a tradition first, based on the use of voice. The sound an opera singer creates is the sound of a child just born, of an orgasm, of a mother giving birth. It’s a pure sound amplified,” Anthony told me with sparkling eyes. “We don’t use art as a stage just for virtuosity, but for authenticity as well.” Obviously, creating a pure sound means no use of audiovisual techniques. But why do people seem to lose interest in what is the predecessor of our musical comedies?”
It’s needless to remind you that European art is self-centered, and tells Occidental stories. “Creating an opera within this period is also to find the music and the story from other cultures.” When Anthony asked me if I knew the Mahabharata, I hadn’t even heard it once. “It’s the Bible in Asia. See, it’s European arrogance. We need to start to have an interest in others’ culture because we live in a cosmopolitan world. In art schools, pupils only learn about European culture. Creativity first!” To be up to date, opera needs to get interested in stories which are universal. And that’s how opera can renew itself.
Singing stories of people, that’s how we connect our cosmopolitan world together with the arts.
Anthony has a strong belief that art can change the world, and thus wants to “bring opera in the world as a social work project, and add something to the art instead of reproducing”. He proved his commitment by participating in many projects, sometimes gathering thousands of singers, including the Opera Forward Festival (OFF) that is in its second edition until the end of March. “The OFF aims to show that opera can reflect the world we live in. It tells stories of people today or deals with current issues”.
His pride is New Talent: “The future generation of opera artists that knows and loves the tradition. We give them the space to find their sound and gather with other disciplines.” New Talent is a working process in which students looking for new ways are recruited straight from Dutch conservatories to create and realize plays together. “I see them working, doubting, crying, fighting. But they need to learn how to communicate.” He’d like every art student to come and see the exciting stage, to motivate them to go further and change the world with opera. Read more about the OFF here.
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