At the end of June, I was at the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique et de Danse de Lyon pitching a project called A Voice in an Empty Space, the title of which is a rather on-the-nose nod to Peter Brook’s 1968 book An Empty Space which is, from what I understand, required reading for most theater students, particularly directors.
Cathy Berberian’s 1966 manifesto “La nuova vocalità nell’opera contemporanea” (“The New Vocality in Contemporary Work”) still rings true at the turn of 2022. It starts with the question: “Cosa è la nuova vocalità che appare tanto minacciosa alla vecchia guardia?”
I recall going to an exhibition of dissident art from the Soviet Block at the Centre Pompidou in Paris when I was 18 or 19.
I only remember one of the pieces of art I may have seen there: A video installation made to look like a recording of a cross examination. The camera was pointed at a haphazard angle at the face of a woman in a plain room while someone in the role, I assume, of a Stasi officer, interrogated her from off camera. He kept repeating the same question: Was ist Kunst? Was ist Kunst?
At the end of this June, I traveled to the Aix-en-Provence festival as one of nine young writers and opera makers to take part in a cultural journalism residency under the tutelage of critic Shirley Apthorp and dramaturge Willem Bruls. We spent six days attending the dress rehearsals of the 2021 festival program, writing about the productions, and talking about both the tradition and the future of opera.