The U.K.’s Opera North has announced Professor Edward Venn of the School of Music, University of Leeds, as its new Academic in Residence.
Venn will spend a year at the Company bringing together diverse voices from all areas of the performing arts and academia for a series of discussions, events, and an exhibition focusing on race, ethics, and representation in operatic storytelling.
According to a press release, the seminars will explore issues of race and ethics in opera, looking particularly at Opera North’s past productions as well as its present and future.
The tenure will conclude with Opera North’s production of “The Pearl Fishers,” Bizet’s 1863 opera featuring one of the best-loved duets in the canon, in an exoticized ancient Sri Lankan setting that presents difficulties for contemporary productions.
Over the past few weeks, Venn has sat in on rehearsals for Orpheus: Monteverdi Reimagined, Opera North and South Asian Arts-uk’s new take on the seminal 1607 opera that weaves together Indian classical and western baroque music.
In a statement Venn said, “The opportunity to attend rehearsals and model showings for ‘Orpheus’ has given me a wonderful insight into the creative thinking behind this adaption of Monteverdi’s ‘L’Orfeo.’ In particular, co-Music Directors Jasdeep Singh Degun and Laurence Cummings’ bringing together of their respective traditions has resulted in the cast and musicians having to confront and experience two very different musical practices. Understanding the challenges that singers and instrumentalists alike have overcome in their encounters with a different tradition, and seeing how this gives rise to authentic performances, has been truly revelatory.”