Opera to the People

In Collaboration with

Maria Magdalena Kozlowska

Opera to People is interested in bringing opera to people, by introducing it in the public space in a COVID-proof manner.

The presence of artists in public discourse has been obscured by the pandemic. Especially artists representing performing arts, such as theatre and opera, were forced to leave their stages. Their physical presence was reshaped to an immaterial form of a live stream on Instagram or documentation/registration on an online platform. As performers, we feel isolated from our audience. We need to be able to share spaces with people in order to practice our craft. How can we do that without breaking the restrictions?

We feel that the heart of Amsterdam is being nurtured by the canals. They concentrate and organize the life of the city. Using their infrastructure, we can bring opera to people while keeping a safe distance. We believe that public space is a stage not less than the one in a theatre or the opera. It reflects the socioeconomic, political and artistic phenomena in its architecture, traffic, even on its map. We want to study it to create a space for encounters between people and opera. The presence of the classical singing voice in public space shifts the power dynamics, introduced by the status of opera, perceived as an experience of “high culture”. By making it accessible to everybody, we propose a different function of classical music, bringing out its potential to engage and move people on daily basis. The canal concerto redefines the position of the spectator, as it moves in space, leaving a choice to the audience. People can follow the singers, walk along their route, then let the concert pass them. We want to challenge the perspective on temporality, proximity and spectatorship in performance.

The performance is a collaboration between Maria Magdalena and Pankaj Tiwari. This is part of bigger research of Maria Magdalena Kozłowska, an Amsterdam based singer, performer and director of Polish origin. She’s long been exploring the entanglement of voice and landscape. She works with choirs and opera singers, as well as creates musical solos. Her performances approach the voice inter-disciplinarily. She introduces linguistics, philosophy and cultural studies into her artistic practice, situated on the verge of musical theatre, video and performance art. She graduated from Inter-Area Humanistic and Social Studies at the University of Warsaw and DAS Theatre at the Academy of Theatre and Dance in Amsterdam. 

Her work was exhibited by art institutions and private galleries: KW Institute for Contemporary Art (Berlin), , Museum of Modern Art (Warsaw), during Biennale di Venezia and Manifesta. She worked with theatre houses and festivals: Come Together (Amsterdam), Belluard Bollwerk Festival (Fribourg), Gessnerallee (Zürich), European Cultural Foundation Princess Margriet Award for Culture (Amsterdam). A retrospective of her video works was shown during the International Film Festival New Horizons is Wroclaw.