Artist in Residence 2016 Munich Kammerspiele

Talking Melody-Singing Story

 An Operatic Sound Installation

by Paul Brody

Talking Melody-Singing Story was originally created as a sound installation for Brody’s 2016 Artist in Residence project for the Munich Kammerspiele Opera Department summer festival.

(In 2017 it has been selected as a radio art feature for DEUTSCHLAND RADIO and for the PRIX EUROPA – The European Broadcasting Festival – Europe’s largest annual tri-medial festival and competition)

The piece is based on the two main components of opera: aria and recitative. Part one, Talking-Melody, features singers recalling the moment they fist discovered that their voices were special. The voice melodies of the singers are used as a compositional base to bring out the melodic quality of them speaking.

In other words, stories they tell about melody are transformed into an aria-like composition. The interviews include vocal stars such as Anna Prohaska, Laurent Naouri and Lorin Sklamberg.  A mini opera house was built to contain the installation.

The second part, Singing-Story, contains recordings of people in three different cities describing what they associate with opera. The interviews are from the street around the Munich Kammerspiele, people in rural Alabama, and an Italian woman living in Berlin. Those talking about opera are given a recitative style accompaniment, the story telling part of opera. This mini documentary about opera is both an exploration into operatic form, and into the story telling voice itself.

The background of this sound installation adopted for radio is from Brody’s work

dedicated to inspiring his listeners to hear the narrative-musical quality of spoken language. He has produced installations exploring story telling and voice-melody and identity for the Jewish Museum Berlin, Transmedialle Festival NK Art Space,  Maxim Gorki Theater, and the Prinz-Georg Room for Art.

Süddeutsche Zeitung Kritik:

“Talking Melody – Singing Story”. Der knapp zwanzigminütige Hörfilm des amerikanische Musikers Paul Brody reißt die oft so perfekt inszenierte Oberfläche der Kunstform Oper auf, lässt etwa Sänger intim plaudern oder befragt Strafgefangene in Alabama zu ihrem Verhältnis zur Oper, genauso wie deutsche Passanten…Brodys Klanginstallation fängt diesen Moment des Intimwerdens wunderbar auf: Opernsänger, die über ihre ersten bewussten Erfahrungen mit ihrer Stimme plaudern – die meisten dieser Sängern fangen dann prompt an, Kinderlieder zu singen – nicht erzwungen, mehr als klangliches Beispiel für ihre Anekdoten.

Critique translation:

South German Newspaper

Talking Melody – Singing Story.”  The almost 20 minute listening-film by the American musician, Paul Brody, tears off the often perfect veneer of the operatic art form. The singers chat in intimately about singing, prisoners in Alabama and Germans passing by on the street tell about what they associate with opera… Brody’s sound installation wonderfully captures moments of intimacy: opera singers tell about their earliest memories of experiencing their voices —most of them break out into a children’s song — not because they’re asked to, but naturally, to give a musical example to their anecdotes.

Artist Talk at the Munich Kammerspiele