Recently I have been thinking about the relationship between the audience and the artist, and how this continues to develop and vary as a result of the ever-changing Covid-19 pandemic. I feel that the present situation isn’t likely to revert rapidly, so I have entered a new phase of thinking that is encouraging me to research, reflect, and explore new opportunities. In the quest to find inspiration for new projects and ideas. Today I wanted to share my thoughts on the question: What will the future conversations be like between the artist/s and the audience?
As an opera singer, I get a real buzz from performing live in front of a Theatre audience or the thrill of the more intimate immersive productions that I have been involved with. I love the immediacy of contact between the listener, whether that is through a moment of eye contact, a shared smile or inducing a chuckle. Even the odd distracted audience member can give you a nudge of energy that influences the performance. There is of course the special sound that occurs as a collection of hands come together to express a feeling of gratitude. Clapping bursts the atmosphere to remind you that you are sharing the space with a group of supportive people, who are willing to come on a journey with you. During a time whilst gathering in groups is restricted, how do I dream up ideas that allow for the experience of a live performance, whilst maintaining people’s safety.
To get a better understanding of what it is like to be a member of the audience during the current restrictions I decided to experience live performances that were on offer. Recently I watched two live performances, one in a socially distanced concert hall (A 60-minute recital held at Wigmore Hall, London) and the other from the comfort of my own home (An Operatic evening streamed from the Royal Opera House, London). Both events were performed live with a smaller socially distanced audience at the venue and attempted to encourage new-watchers from home.
I found that one of the positives of attending in person was that I had better focus. The audience sat quietly and encouraged me to soak up the music and devote my attention to the event at hand. I felt that collectively we created a supportive atmosphere for the music to be released into, and the artists (Gweneth Ann Rand, soprano and Simon Lepper, piano) took inspiring risks that provoked personal sensory reactions, such as the hair on my arms standing up.
However, in contrast, when George and I watched the Live-streaming from the Royal Opera House, we enjoyed a more relaxed viewing experience. I was able to wear my “Comfies” and sip a cup of tea during the performance. Our view of the performance for the ticket price of £10.00 was fantastic. Cameras flicked between close-ups to extravagant wide shots that took in the set-designs and auditorium. The only way to achieve this during a live performance would be to run around the auditorium chasing empty seats during the event. I think I would prefer to sit calmly, and not be short of breath. It was interesting that we both wanted to discuss what we were seeing and share our immediate thoughts. Usually, this conversation would be saved for an interval or the trip back home, as you don’t want to disrupt the performers or your fellow listeners. So, this was an enjoyable aspect of having a private viewing.
There is nothing quite like having a live audience, however, I am very aware that I need to look to the future and find solutions. In the coming year as an independent opera singer, I may need to create my own performance opportunities and not just wait for them to arise. I believe it is the Artist’s duty to adapt to the times and find the best way to communicate their message. With this in mind, which method of sharing art has resonated best with you so far? What would you like to see more of? What do you think hasn’t been explored yet? I want to hear your ideas and be inspired.