Portfolio

Here are a few of my favourite projects:

With decaying devices ranging from the archaic to the arcane – the reel-to-reel machine, the stylophone, the omnichord – Lizée aims to create both new sounds and new perspectives. “I use this equipment within a chamber ensemble. I notate it, harmonize it, and members of the ensemble have to learn how to play it – I devise a way of ­playing it like a violin or a vibraphone or any other instrument. It becomes a part of the ensemble.”

If malfunctioning, glitching and melting devices seem unlikely ­bedfellows for chamber works, for Lizée, the progression from the workshop to the concert hall was instinctive. “Bringing these two worlds together is very natural,” she explains. “I consider oscillators and game consoles instruments or sources of sound in the same way I consider a piano or guitar.” This affinity gave rise to pieces such as Arcadiac (2005–8) for ’70s and ’80s arcade consoles, video, and ­orchestra, or Karappo Okesutura (2006) for glitched and spliced karaoke tapes, chamber ensemble, and mezzo soprano.

Hansen – who plays an entire cast of characters within a single exchange, regaling you with stories within stories without dropping the thread of the conversation – is someone who thinks and talks (and even blogs) about opera a great deal. But he doesn’t have a lot of patience for things that he thinks are holding back the craft and threatening its longevity.

“I tell my students this all the time, sometimes they believe it: I take opera really seriously; I just don’t take myself seriously,” laughs Hansen. “I think there are a lot of people who take themselves too seriously in opera.”

When asked about the reasoning behind the tour, Ehnes answers with a self-deprecating laugh, “It’s sort of silly, right? A 40th birthday is a very artificial thing but everyone talks and jokes about it. ‘Ah, you’re over the hill!’ So, as it was approaching, it just crossed my mind that there were certain special projects that would be very meaningful to me. This whole season has been about these special projects.”

Throughout the musical, the most salient theme is the power of stories and storytelling, especially the idea that children learn from and define themselves against the stories we tell. Like Sondheim and Lapine’s Sunday in the Park with George (1984), a great portion of Into the Woods takes place on a meta level, in this case a story about stories rather than art about art. The self-referentiality of the musical is built into its construction; the common fairy tale themes established in the first act are dissected and subverted in the second, from the misogynistic princes to the deconstruction of the good/evil binary.