Cut Opera is an original and fresh approach to opera which condenses classic operas to one to one and a half hours in length. The Cut Opera concept has been developed by Julie Edwardson, a Green Room award winning director who has directed for Opera Australia, State and international opera companies. The Cut operas are contemporised and performed in a range of non-theatre spaces in street theatre style productions. In addition to classically trained singers, the performers come from a variety of backgrounds including rock, blues and jazz.
Cut Opera provides something for a wide range of today’s audiences with fast moving action, humour and musical variety. Cut Opera hopes to introduce opera to non-opera audiences and to keep opera relevant to the mainstream.
What is different about Cut Opera?
Mixing Different Vocal Genres – Performers
Cut Opera provides a unique opportunity for classical singers to interact with singers from more contemporary backgrounds. There are no other settings in which this occurs. The result is a vibrant experience for both audiences and the performers as the different vocal styles contrast with and feedback off each other.
Cut Opera offers training and performance opportunities for aspiring opera singers and contemporary performers in bands, choirs and as solo artists.
The aim of Cut Opera is to not perform in theatres. Instead, the productions are created to be performed in pubs, nightclubs, corporate settings, music festivals, restaurants and wineries. Cut Opera uses a minimal set and maximises the use of the natural features of the performance space.
While Cut Opera is a very different format to contemporary opera, the street theatre style productions actually revive the atmosphere and less formal approach that was used in the early days of opera (early 17th century). The opera houses from this period were more like market places with the singers wandering around and interacting directly with the audience. These were the days before opera performances became a place to display wealth and therefore out of reach of the common person.
Cut Opera aims to remove the formality associated with traditional opera and perform in spaces where people may be used to seeing more mainstream style entertainment.
Keeping Opera Relevant for the Mainstream
Cut Opera has been developed in recognition of the need to keep opera relevant to today’s mainstream audiences. Attendance at traditional opera events has been steadily diminishing over recent decades. This could reflect the relative cost of an opera ticket and/or it may also reflect the fact that mainstream entertainment has changed considerably over this period. Mainstream audiences (and particularly the youth market) appear to seek high intensity entertainment and expect to experience action and plot sequences that move at a different pace from that of traditional opera.
Cut Opera therefore uses the timeless stories that are told in the classic operas but removes repetitiveness and certain components of the full opera scores to ensure that the expectations of today’s mainstream audiences are met. This is not done at the expense of the integrity of the original score. Cut Opera’s are an original interpretation of the classic operas but maintain the intent and are produced with full respect to the original composition.
While the opera pieces in Cut Opera productions are sung with the same melody as the original score the accompaniment is quite different. Rather than orchestral accompaniment, Cut Opera performances are accompanied by a small jazz style band. The harmonic structure and timing of the original score is maintained but the actual notes played in the accompaniment are improvised. This allows rapid transition between different scenes and vocal pieces and allows the flexibility for a certain amount of fusing between the music of the original opera and the contemporary elements that are introduced by Cut Opera productions.