The redemptive power of Opera Helps

Published: 8 August 2020
Reporter: Vera Liber

Opera Helps Online by Joshua Sofaer Credit: Will Knight

Opera Helps began as a site-specific art project in which professional opera singers visited people in their own homes to sing to them one to one, "harnessed the redemptive power of opera to help with participant's personal problems."

Opera Helps creator Joshua Sofaer has adapted the concept for online delivery; people with a problem are invited to contact Opera Helps to arrange for an online visit from a professional opera singer.

People who have a problem—anything that they find worrying—can book a session and arrangements are made for a singer to meet them online, who will select a suitable aria to sing. A session lasts approximately 30 minutes and is free.

"We know that Opera Helps affects audiences deeply." said Ilana Mitchell, Wunderbar's Artistic Director. "We strive to make work that meets its audiences in the places where they live and work, so it is a privilege to be adapting Opera Helps to bring an intimate experience to people who might be stuck at home, living through these challenging, isolating times."

"Historically, opera was always a popular art form," said Sofaer. "Even 50 years ago, hairdressers in Italy would sing arias as they worked. Yet now it is seen as something highbrow, for the rich and highly educated, inaccessible to most people. By relocating opera to the home in an online setting and relating it to personal problems I truly think we can introduce people to the music who wouldn’t otherwise have given it a chance."

A pool of six professional singers have been trained by Joshua to listen appropriately, empathise and ask simple, open questions but not to offer advice or counselling.

Opera Helps Online is open for applications now and continues until mid October.