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Description of Contemporary Opera: Libertaria

Description of Contemporary Opera: Libertaria

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Published by Sabrina Pena Young
Project description of Libertaria: The Virtual Opera, a sci-fi animated contemporary opera by contemporary composer Sabrina Pena Young.
Project description of Libertaria: The Virtual Opera, a sci-fi animated contemporary opera by contemporary composer Sabrina Pena Young.

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Categories:Topics, Art & Design
Published by: Sabrina Pena Young on Apr 23, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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02/06/2014

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LIBERTARIA: THE VIRTUAL OPERAby Sabrina Peña YoungCONCEPT:
 To create a 21 st century opera that combines current technologies with traditionalclassical composition in a new and exciting way to reach a broader audience andcreate a unique hybrid of contemporary 21st century opera reflective of the DigitalAge.
METHODS:
Use of the following elements -1) Traditional Opera Cast2) Science Fiction Libretto reflective of sociopolitical concerns relevant to today3) Electroacoustic Music, Sound Synthesis, Vocal Synthesis, and SoftwareInstruments4) Recordings from human cast members5) Use of virtual voices for opera chorus, bit players, secondary roles, and for oneminor character (Gabe)6) Crowdsourcing for Animation and Sound Teams7) Virtual Auditions8) Virtual Launch Party (release of the opera to 100 select venues, includinguniversities, galleries, festivals, theaters, concert venues, etc. as well as online in2013-tbd).9) Machinima and Computer Animation10) Entire communication for the opera conducted online (no traditional rehearsals)11) Marketing and promotions using internet resources of all kinds
VIRTUAL AUDITIONS
Using a variety of sites, I conducted online auditions. The call was postedthroughout the web, including MusicXray, Blogger, FB, listserves, OurStage,Panpipes, etc.Sample Call:
Want to volunteer your vocal or acting talents for this project?Audition online through Music Xray:
 
http://www.musicxray.com/interactions/1414/submissions/newI will be conducting online auditions until August 2011. You can also contact me directly through: spenayoung@gmail.comPlease put “Opera Audition” in the email header.
Auditions came in (and continues) to come in from all over the world. A core cast of 10 was selected. Since the original cast selections, there have been a few changesto the cast, with some additions of actors and singers to fill in roles. Auditionsconsisted of a short one minute clip of the singer's choice and then an excerpt fromthe opera (Director's selection). The advantages of an animated opera includes being able to combine cast memberrecordings to make a single voice. For this reason, a few key roles have two singersplaying the roles. This allows for creative mixing and morphing of voices during postproduction. Additionally, each cast member plays multiple roles that will be alteredin post production to produce different voices.A key example is the character Gabe, who plays one of the three main male roles.Gabe's character is a veteran whose voicebox was destroyed in previous conflicts.Because of this and his decision to join the Underground, Gabe's voicebox morphsand distorts his voice. To create this effect, a human cast member's voice will bemixed with vocal synthesis from programs like Vocal Writer and Symphonic Choirs,as well as vocoder plug-ins, to create a unique robotic voice with human qualities.Other characters, such as the Collective (a team of evil geneticists that havereverse aged to a perverse adult infanthood), also use electronic sounds as theirvoices, mixed with human vocals.
THE STORY 
As a professional writer and composer that is obsessed with sci-fi, I created a simplelibretto that combines with my vision for a visually compelling electronic opera. Thestory delves into sociopolitical commentary about the politics of our time and therole that economics play in our value of life, genetics, and medicine, while alsotaking some of the most common fears of the modern age and accelerating them toan apocalyptic end within a century. While bleak, the story should be seen as anincredibly surreal and skewed mirror of possible futures for present day society, aswell as an extremely veiled autobiographical confession.It’s the year 2139, andUnited States, decimated bynuclear warin the last half of  the21st centuryhas splintered off into territorial factions. The sky has grown red,the water runs black, and hope rests on the shoulders of a young teen.Meet Libertaria, of unknown origin and unknown place. Left as an infant in theabandoned Lady Liberty Souvenir Shop in the year 2125, she spent her early yearsbouncing within the Factory. Aided by a woman known only as Nurse, Libertariaescapes Factory at the age of 14, traveling the bullet train fromNueva York, thecapitol of the USSA, toNew Miamiin search of the one person that ever showed herkindness.A mysterious glowing medallion leads her to the Underground, a society of childrenled by the seemingly immortal Simeon. Hunted by the Apothetae Army Police,
 
Simeon and his closest allies, Miguel, Lucy, andGabe, attempt to protect theinnocent and helpless from the Collective, an immoral mysterious alliance of sevengeneticists who control the Factory. Before it’s all over, Libertaria will lead achildren’s rebellion against the Collective, destroying the Factory and leading thedystopic USSA to freedom.
THE MUSIC
 The score for
Libertaria
combines traditional choral writing, sound synthesis, andcontemporary composition in a hybrid electroacoustic track involving recordedvocals, vocal synthesis, and electronic music. Hovering between categories, thescore for
Libertaria
tells a story but also gives the audience a sonic experience,literally placing each audience member in the sonic reality that is
Libertaria
. Theoriginal libretto combines traditional lyricism with a hodge podge of musiqueconcrete, synthesis, and filmscoring that is typical of Young's works. What results isa lush, slightly neurotic, unforgettable score that gleans materials from all cornersof the globe and all aspects of contemporary composition. Dr. Clare Shore serves asthe Music Advisor for the opera, with additional insight provided by other technicaladvisors.Creating the music materials involves the creating a compositional sketch with old-fashioned paper and piano, realizing that sketch using a combination of Finale andLogic, then creating click tracks. After the creation of click tracks, each castmember receives a click strack with piano playing their parts, as well as a scoretailored to their role. Essentially the composer creates four versions of each song:Handwritten sketch, Logic Mix, Finale score, Click mix (combination of Finale andLogic score). The biggest challenge has been moving between Finale and Logic andensuring that the final score and tracks match perfectly. Each score also has a scorereduction that matches the tape, as well as time codes, and dramatic actions.A full opera book will be available for Libertaria online, and groups have alreadyindicated an interest in performing both the electronic and acoustic versions of thetracks. The screenplay/libretto will be available online, as well.

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Clare Shore added this note
Sabrina, I can't tell you how amazing this is. . .you keep outdoing yourself! I can hardly wait for the screenings. Brava! - Clare

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