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ELECTRIFYING OPERA: Amplifying agency for opera singers improvising with interactive audio technology

ELECTRIFYING OPERA: Amplifying agency for opera singers improvising with interactive audio technology

PhD Candidate Kristin Norderval's doctoral project

Academic summary

This research project examines the technical, physical and pedagogical challenges that opera singers face in relation to the use of interactive audio processing technology and improvisation in opera. It investigates acoustic and aesthetic conflicts between opera and electronic music, explores reasons why opera singers have been slower than classically trained instrumentalists to embrace new technologies, and asks whether a different conception of sound design and interactive controllers might alleviate some of the barriers opera singers encounter in relation to the innovations of the digital revolution.Taking into account the vocal, physical and expressive demands on opera singers and the dilemmas posed by their needs for mobility and for acoustics that support the unamplified virtuosic voice, the goal of this research is to create a custom designed performer-controlled interactive audio processing system for opera singers that addresses those needs. Using practice-based research, and participatory design with singers in ongoing workshops, and working together with computer engineers, various configurations of real-time interactive processing systems will be tested. The final outcome of this research will be to incorporate a custom designed interactive system into a new chamber opera - The Sailmaker´s Wife. The Sailmaker´s Wife is a collaboration between composer Kristin Norderval and librettist/designer Julian Crouch, and is commissioned by the Ethos percussion quartet in New York City. Multiple performances are planned in the USA and internationally.This research contributes to the development of emerging technologies in opera, to the development of the improvisational performance skills needed to engage with those technologies, and to the development of innovations in sound design conducive to opera.

Project facts

Project title ELECTRIFYING OPERA: Amplifying agency for opera singers improvising with interactive audio technology
Project manager Kristin Norderval
Oslo National Academy of the Arts
Start date
End date
Project status Active
Department Academy of Opera
  1. Kristin Norderval: Excerpts from "The Sailmaker´s Wife" performed at "VoxLAB VårFEST 2021" 26.08.2021 (2021). Music - composition. More information
  2. Kristin Norderval: Spillerom Søndag - Om lyd, lytting og stemmen - VoxLAB (2021). Interview. More information
  3. Kristin Norderval: "Something is coming" (2021). Musical performance. More information
  4. Kristin Norderval: "Introducing opera singers to vocal processing" - interactive workshop (2021). Lecture. More information
  5. Kristin Norderval: "Embodied Voice: the extended roles of today´s opera singers." - Panel discussion with Franziska Baumann and Alex Nowitz (2021). Lecture. More information
  6. Kristin Norderval: VoxLAB and Vocal Music (2020). Interview. More information
  7. Kristin Norderval: Den utvidede stemmen (2021). Interview. More information
  8. Kristin Norderval: Night of New Vocalities (2021). Other presentation. More information
  9. Toril Carlsen, Anna Elisabet Einarsson, Alexander Refsum Jensenius & Kristin Norderval: Contemporary Vocal Arts Training: Renewing the opera form through new pedagogical practices that expand the role of the singer (2021). Lecture. More information
  10. Marianne Baudouin Lie, Else Bø, Sigrid Elisabeth Stang, Eva Holm Foosnæs, Ellen Lindquist & Kristin Norderval: Eit Underliggjande Landskap drikk av Himmelen (2020). Musical performance. More information
  11. Kristin Norderval: Electrifying Opera: Amplifying agency for opera singers improvising with interactive audio technology (2020). Academic lecture. More information
  12. Kristin Norderval, Patricia Isasa, Hanna Filomen Mjåvatn, Siri Haugan Holden & Patricia Kaatee: Art & Trauma - What do we need to consider? (2019). Lecture. More information

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