When the COVID-19 pandemic struck, people affected by homelessness were particularly hard hit. The immense difficulties the country faced were especially challenging for the most vulnerable and marginalised in society.
Government restrictions at the time meant that Streetwise Opera’s in-person workshops had to move online. Over 350 Zoom sessions were delivered, alongside projects with a range of incredible artists including The Sixteen, Brodsky Quartet and Roderick Williams.
When we returned to in-person workshops, Streetwise Opera performers spoke about how much they had enjoyed and valued the opportunity that Zoom had provided to talk to, and create work with, participants from other cities. Creative collaborations were formed across the country, with a desire to explore how these could continue as life returned to some kind of normal.
And so – following many conversations and ideas-sharings between performers – Re:sound was born; a year-long festival of new music in London, Nottingham and Manchester, exploring our relationship with – and between – the cities in which live.
Over the past year, performers in each city have collaborated with each other and with composers, choreographers and animators to create nine micro-operas; short musical stories of the cities told through a fusion of animation, movement and live voices. Every word and note you hear, each choreographic gesture and flicker of animation, has been inspired, formed and forged through these collaborations.
Three of these pieces have been co-created by performers in our regular weekly sessions in each city: at the Southbank Centre, Nottingham Playhouse and Whitworth Gallery. The remaining six micro-operas have been co-written by participants in frontline homelessness settings in each city: Magpie Project and Renewal Programme (London), Emmanuel House and Double Impact Academy (Nottingham) and Women’s Direct Access Centre and Cornerstone Day Centre (Manchester).
Over the weeks and months, performers and artists have shared their process of creating the work through an online festival, revealing an insight into why and how these pieces took shape.
Alongside this, Performers have researched their stories through numerous visits to heritage sites and talks from historians – generously supported by The National Lottery Heritage Fund – and shared their findings through presented exhibitions in each city.
The festival reaches its climax with performances by each group at the Bridgewater Hall, Nottingham Playhouse and the Southbank Centre, prior to a performance at the Queen Elizabeth Hall which brings together performers from across the country. Every micro-opera offers a new perspective of our cities through a lens too often ignored – brilliantly imaginative stories of passion, strength, humour and solidarity. And behind each of these pieces are a multitude of stories of collaboration, generosity, spirit and inspiration as performers and artists emerged from the isolation of the pandemic to create powerful new music.
We are overwhelmingly proud to present this shared vision – supported by the BBC Concert Orchestra, singers from The Sixteen and theatre company 1927 – as Streetwise Opera performers unite to resound together their stories of cities.