Experiments in Opera Delivers A Podcast Series
Aqua Net and Funyums
By: Susan Hall - Dec 09, 2020
Experiments in Opera
Aqua Net and Funyums
Apple Podcasts and Spotify
Experiments in Opera (EIO) is the company that gives most hope for the future of the opera form. They are fleet, inclusive and steeped in the history of the opera. Most importantly, they have extended the camp story-telling which characterizes the form. For all the beauty of classic operas, let’s face it: they are camp. Stories conclude with full volume death scenes in airless tombs below ground, mystical sailors arrive to disrupt a community and its spinners. Arias are sung as sopranos are consumed by consumption. Suspension of disbelief is required.
You may not tune in with consuming interest in a beauty shop, a portapotty, an aquarium or a mother who writes about a love affair between Sherlock and Watson, but you leave the cycle wanting more. These tales are fun, musical, and yes, operatic.
The words and music of each contributor are unique. These operas hold as a whole because the artists have worked together. Jason Cady, one of the EIO principals, has resurrected the Writers’ Room. If you want to get a feeling of what Writers’ Rooms are like see the recently released Mank. S.J.Perelman, Ben Hecht, F. Scott Fitzgerald and Herman Mankiewicz himself are packed together with a topless secretary whose nipples are sequined. Cady’s secrets have not been revealed, but high class work comes out of this new Room.
Opera can be intimate in podcasts. Social media and the internet have gotten audiences accustomed to intimacy in the forms in which they engage. One of the problems with the big opera companies is that they deliver distanced art.
The podcast form, which leaves the images to your imagination, is one step beyond Ivan Fisher’s incredible Don Giovanni, which is almost setless. Or Willie Decker’s Traviata, which leaves Verdi’s music front and forward. The words and the music of Aqua Net and Funyums are plenty enough to fill our imaginations. We don’t need visual interpretation. If these podcasts are to be visualized, we imagine Richard Linklater or another anime artist. A graphic novel opera.
Experiemtns in Opera takes the classic radio serial and tools it to serve the form. This group of podcasts, each of which advances five stories episode by episode, tease, tantalize and entrance.
Jason Cady’s music, which has given rise to this form, is jazzy and conversational itself. It raises the question: what is the role of the word in opera? Stories are often advanced to be sure. Yet in most operas they do not drive. It is the music alone that gives us an operatic evening. Music is not minimized by EIO. It does not, however, seem more important than the story. And this may be one clue to a successful future for the form. Good stories are key to new audiences. Minecraft and Roblox, the video games which have caught fire in the imaginations of a new generation of potential fans, may well be the source of Experiments in Operas next podcast series. EIO can probably outdo them. We eagerly await their next experiment.