|Young Dishes Opera at TEDxBuffalo|
How to Write an Opera in the Digital Age
When we think about how to write an opera, what often comes to mind is a large scale traditional opera on an immense theatrical stage employing dozens, if not a hundred, singers, musicians, costumer designers, stagehands, theater personnel, a publicist, and more.
Writing an opera in the 21st century has greatly evolved with the changes in technology. Specifically social media, Internet downloads, video hosting sites like Youtube, smartphones and even changes in basic coding has allowed today’s opera composers to truly write great operas without the cost and complexities of a traditional stage opera.
As a composer, I still prefer live performance and the grandiose splendor of a live theatrical production. However, with economic and social barriers that have limited my access (and many contemporary composers’) access to the resources that would allow such spectacle, for my own opera Libertaria, I had to opt for an entirely different route like many other opera composers today, subsequently breaking new ground in creating an opera that was produced entirely through online collaboration without a single live rehearsal.
Use the Music Resources at Your Disposal
As a composer you may have resources that you are unaware of, from friends with vocal talent to computer coding skills to access to a community gym or church for a performance. While there are some programs that will finance a large theatrical production, a little bit of creativity in terms of production can help you achieve a grandiose opera production without incurring a large financial burden. Part of being a smart musician today is being business savvy, and that includes avoiding going into deep debt for your music.
What are some resources that you can use? Here are some specific examples:
- Reach out to your community and friends/family to see who has creative talent and the time to work with you on your project
- Use the Internet to post on blogs, put out audition calls to artist message boards, use sites like MusicXray to audition potential talent, make connections through social media
- Crowdsource your ideas by asking for help on large online forums
- Use outsourcing through sites like Upwork or Fiverr for marketing materials, administrative work, and more
- Avoid large production costs by integrating technology in your production. This could be anything from animation to video projections to code to create an interactive opera
- Use sites like Indiegogo and Kickstarter to crowdfund some of your production
- Offer in-kind services to creative professionals that want to help you on your project. For example, you can offer to write music for your artistic director’s next production in exchange for their help on your opera
- Start a blog or social media site during the production of your project from the beginning that helps create a buzz and interest on your project and network with individuals that may want to help you with your production
- Use programs like Finale or Sibelius to write up scores quickly and share them online with the cast. Take advantage of sites like Bandcamp that allow you to upload music and scores for free
- Find a venue by being creative and asking/crowdsourcing ideas about potential opera sites, or just skip the live venue altogether and have an online virtual opera or interactive opera
|Composer Sabrina Pena Young|