Renato Proper wrote a blog about the try-out of Distant Voices.
"This must have been a wet dream for the producers: wonderful voices, technology and locations to create grand (or very small) performances."
At the introductory lecture in the New Luxor Theatre I was told that the title of this performance should actually be 'Cold Voices' rather than 'Distant Voices'. My initial thought was: surely that can't be right. But then I realised, well, yes, this could be true. And with this new title in mind, George Orwell's idea of Big Brother in his novel '1984' and the combination of Humans and Technology this does seem to be the right title. Like the introductory lecture mentioned: 'In the beginning there was, of course, a human voice singing.'
After the introduction, every part of this performance deals with the human singing voice and technology from a different perspective. For example, in Sol io I watched Kevin D. Dalton sing and dance his emotions. Simultaneously. You need good voice technique to be able to do so. The way I see it, it is precisely this technique that gives the voice freedom within the boundaries of self-imposed control. Good singing technique allows the singers to give their emotions free reign.
photo Maarten Laupman (headphones by SilentDJ)
A major contrast to this is White World, in which the self-imposed control of voice technique excludes every emotion. A case of 'Cold Voices' indeed. This relates to Orwell whose idea of Big Brother causes a constant sense of suspicion and tightness. The voice becomes distant and 'cold'; not because of physical technology but manipulation (a technique that can also be mastered).
At times, this distance was very literal in Distant Voices. Whereas the singing sounded as good as humanly possible right after the introduction in the New Luxor, it remained cold due to a robot-like resonance. My conclusion: no matter how good the technology will ever be, it will never sound completely human. The aria that was sung sounded fragmented, as if the battery of the metal doll construction was dying. Cold. Distant. Not to mention the performance of Blauwbaard: just one voice and you watch the projection from above. It became practically three-dimensional.
Quite a different contrast was the grande (literally true as the entire Fenixloods was the décor) finale Opera Mecatronica, with the audience seated on the stage. The grande finale was a performance in which voices and technology (voice changers operated by the singers themselves) melted together into a unique and warm whole with the support of a singer/key board musician. The singer/dancer was on his own with a projection of himself on a screen as his only counterpart. The distance between him and his projected self is enormous.
photo Maarten Laupman
This turned out to be an opera experience full of contrast and harmony. The details such as the locations, the varying seating levels of the audience and the different décors were extremely well executed. This must have been a wet dream for the producers: wonderful voices, technology and locations to create grand (or very small) performances. One that became real.