The Algae Opera is an avant-garde live art piece sung in Ancient Japanese and using vocal extended technique to build the sound world. It seeks to explore food in the age of biotechnology by reimagining the opera house as a dinner plate and using breath and pitch to grow algae.
The Algae Opera singer is part storyteller, part farmer. The singer’s choices are filtered through three needs:
- Pitch to flavour the algae – selecting pitch and timbre to provide a bitter or sweet flavour.
- Breath to grow the algae – in this world view, breath is heard and celebrated. The more breath is heard, the more the algae will grow. Therefore, unlike classical technique, breath is taken to a point of collapse, and simultaneous onset is no longer the standard onset, rather it is mixed in with airiated onset (breath first then vibration) and vocal extended technique (unconventional singing methods to make new sounds) to create more opportunity for breath.
- Share the story – how pitch and breath come together to share the story of banishment.
The Algae Opera by Burton Nitta. Composer Matt Rogers. Mezzo Soprano Louise Ashcroft. Actor Sam Lewis. Photography Matt McQuillan.