Ravel’s L’Enfant as Virtual Opera

Published: 24 October 2020
Reporter: Vera Liber

VOPERA: The Virtual Opera Project

The first production of VOPERA: The Virtual Opera Project will be Maurice Ravel’s L’Enfant et les Sortilèges with the London Philharmonic Orchestra under the baton of Lee Reynolds on 16 November 2020.

VOPERA is brought to life using global Zoom auditions and rehearsals, 'socially distanced' orchestral studio recording, individually captured audio recordings, hand-drawn set and costumes and body-double acting using a homemade green-screen studio overlaid with the recorded cast’s singing faces.

More than 80 singers from all over the world are led by Emily Edmonds, Karen Cargill, Michael Sumuel, Marta Fontanals-Simmons and Gavan Ring. The Child is played by nine-year-old Amelie Turnage.

VOPERA founder and director Rachael Hewer said: “I wanted to make something that people can be actively and creatively involved in. We are all worried about the pressures—both health-related and financial—that the pandemic has put us under, but fundamentally, the emotional impact of not working and not making music is being underestimated. I can do something about that. This project involves dozens of artists working individually and together. Singers need to sing, players need to play, and I can make that possible.”

Conductor Lee Reynolds created a reduced arrangement of Ravel’s music to enable an orchestral ensemble of 27 musicians to record the score in line with COVID-19 restrictions. He said, “we've all faced a huge challenge in discovering how musicians, spread thousands of miles apart, can make meaningful music together, and this brilliantly ambitious project has demanded solutions that none of us could have dreamed of only months ago. From the smallest steps like refining how to share musical ideas, rehearse and do amazing things over an Internet connection from half a planet away, right up to our 360o orchestral recording layout, this project has proven that with enough determination and pioneering creativity, opera can happen, even in these extraordinary times.”

VOPERA’s L’Enfant et les Sortilèges premières on 16 November 2020 on the LPO’s YouTube channel, and will be available to stream for 30 days.