Yuval Sharon took a moment while driving to discuss the January 13 release of his mobile opera, Hopscotch, on Industry Records.
Topics ranged from contemporary opera to his LA Philharmonic Artist Collaboration. Opera and Theatre Editor Marcina Zaccaria got his responses for The Theatre Times.
MZ: What was it like working with Meredith Monk?
YS: Working with Meredith was a dream come true. Meredith is the reason I got into opera.
When I was at Berkeley, I was taking an opera class and the focus was primarily on Puccini and Verdi and Wagner, and all those great guys. In those last few weeks, the professor left a few sessions open for contemporary opera, and I got to know Atlas. She played the music from Atlas. I was so drawn to it. When I heard the music from Atlas, I thought, “Oh, I get it.” Opera can be a piece of theater, and it can be more than a pretty concert with some costumes. I think that really speaks to today.
MZ: What does the word, “Interdisciplinary” Mean to You?
YS: Interdisciplinary. I think that is at the core of what opera is.
Opera is the merging of the different artistic disciplines. Most obviously, Music and text. But, also the visual aspects. The sets, the costumes of the production in general. Choreography. And, also, Architecture. In the beginning, Opera was the place where all of those different, art forms, searched for a place of intersection. That word, Interdisciplinary, the fact that that is a word that is so current right now. So much contemporary art is in that vein of the interdisciplinary or looking for different ways in which the art form has merged with others. I think that’s what opera has been doing, ever since its genesis, 400 and some years ago. For me, It’s a reminder of how utterly relevant of how opera still is. The idea of the interdisciplinary is at the core of how I think of opera.
MZ: In Hopscotch, all the cars gather in the Central Hub. How did you build and keep access to the Central Hub, while developing this large scale piece?
YS: The Central Hub was actually such a key part of the concept…The Central Hub allows for a lot of opportunity and synthesis of that experience. And most importantly, it also allows for the communal aspect of it. If people that didn’t get a ticket for the cars, they could come to the Central Hub for free.
That was the part of the experience that was most open to the public. Just by the nature of it, the experience of the cars was limited, by how many people could go. I wanted to make sure that this was an experience that was accessible and available to a wider audience.
MZ: What about the concert at USC?
YS: This concert that we’re going to do at USC is much different. It really highlights the music only. I think this is very important.
We did this with Invisible Cities, where we did all the staging at Union Station. Then, we did a concert that was only the music. The audiences that were excited about the work had the opportunity to experience the music on their own terms. For opera, it is really important that there’s the chance to deal with what the music was like, without the rest of the experience.
MZ: What are you doing to prepare for the release of Hopscotch on the label?
YS: We spent a year, actually, preparing this recording. Listening to all of the field recordings from Hopscotch, and trying to realize how we can we best encapsulate the Hopscotch experience as a recorded artifact…Some of the more guerilla style audio that we captured while we were doing the piece.
It was really an amalgamation of all of the Hopscotch experiences. Realizing that it was all put as a compendium, on one album, I’ve been encouraging people to just think about shuffling them, shuffle the tracks. It’s less of a continuity from one chapter to another, and more about those individual moments and what they encapsulate.
MZ: The USB is in the shape of a car key. How did you decide to have that, sort of, kitsch factor with this?
YS: There was so much music. I didn’t want to release two CDs, necessarily. There was so much music to make available to the public…The fact that there is a key connected to car that makes it look like a car, and feel like so very practical and thematic. It feels connected to the ethos of the piece, as a whole.
MZ: How are you dealing with aesthetics when you are looking ahead with First Take/ Second Take, the LA Philharmonic Artist Collaboration? How are you dealing with the development of where your work with the opera is going?
YS: The way that the Industry’s work is very responsive to the City and to the time. I would like the work that we are planning to feel as always a response to what we have established and accomplished…I think that the projects that are coming up in the year ahead feel like extensions of the kind of explorations that I have already been doing with Industry and elsewhere.
MZ: Are you going to be taking over the halls of the LA Philharmonic? Are your people from First Take/ Second Take going to be storming the hallways with you?
YS: Each piece is really different. Each of these projects is really different, and there’s no one size fits all approach. I think that’s really important.
First Take and Second Take. Those are two concert experiences, and those are about making sure that the circumstances are really right for these new pieces.
The First Piece that I did with the LA Phil was actually more of an installation, and anyone can see it over the course of the year. That’s really in the hallways of the LA Phil. That’s been open since before October and it’s called Nimbus, and that’s the first of the collaborations that I’ll be doing with LA Phil. That has a relation to something that we did at the Hammer Museum.
Hopscotch was conceived and directed by The Industry’s Artistic Director, Yuval Sharon.
Industry Records will release Hopscotch on January 13. A concert of Hopscotch will take place at USC on January 20.
This post was written by the author in their personal capacity.The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not reflect the view of The Theatre Times, their staff or collaborators.