The four century history of opera from Peri and Monteverdi to Birtwistle, Bruči, and Tkach
About the series
An Opera Odyssey is a truly gargantuan production undertaking by Elbrus TV. Being filmed across 38 countries, it will truly be the most substantial, significant, and meaningful visual history of opera ever to be produced. Viewers will see how the communicative power of opera with its intoxicating mix of live orchestral music, the unique quality of the human voice, poetry-like stories, and inspiring stage designs, affects us both intellectually and emotionally. And it will demonstrate how we need all of these elements to coalesce to give us a true opera experience.
The series will bring viewers on an unrivalled journey through the four-century history of this rich and multifaceted musical genre, in an insightful and approachable manner. They will learn not only of opera’s development from the 1600s in an alluring, at times amusing, and always engaging way – but also how vocal technique evolved, how the role of the orchestra changed with the passage of time, and they will gain a valuable insight into the lives of the great composers, who quite paradoxically, are frequently the forgotten element in opera productions. Viewers will be brought inside some of the most opulent and majestic opera houses, and they will hear from musicologists, conductors, operatic singers, designers, and museum curators.
The series profiles an astounding 170 composers by presenting a brief, but essential biographical portrait of them. Then their operatic works which aid in demonstrating the development of opera are examined, offering a background, brief plot synopsis, and a musical commentary.
Outside of broadcast, the series will be available as a stunning DVD collection, presented in English (original version), with narrations (and where relevant, subtitles) in Russian, German, French, Italian, Spanish, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Dutch, Czech, Hungarian, Turkish, Greek, Swedish, Arabic, Japanese, and Mandarin.
While we acknowledge the highly respected publications on the history of opera, just like the genre itself that depends on the visual and aural to give one an ‘opera experience’, we hope that our chosen medium will do much to enlighten viewers about this art form, which interestingly, and probably uniquely, depends more on its historical works compared to contemporary ones for its sustainability. Opera is consistently developing new audiences, and continuing that trend is this series’ raison d’être.
Uniquely, Opera Odyssey is a Massive Open Participatory Arts Project in which the public, as well as corporate entities, can play an invaluable part and leave a lasting educational legacy, by supporting our Friends & Patrons programme.
Maestro Gianmaria Griglio
Head of Translation
A Word from the Music Director
In spite of, or maybe thanks to, Hermann Hesse’s Age of Feuilleton, opera is an integral part of modern society: starting with theatrical representations in the dawn of western culture, opera, in its various forms, moved through centuries, wars, political and cultural turmoils growing as one of the most popular artform expressions.
Sometimes funny, sometimes dramatic, sometimes tragic, opera traverses the entire spectrum of human emotions, summing up history in just a few hours: from Monteverdi’s Orfeo through Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte to Puccini’s Turandot and all the way to Bruci’s Gilgamesh we can observe history – our own history – through the glass of time, recognizing ourselves in all those characters that are nothing but a mirror exposing our flaws, our regrets, our passions, and making us love life to its very core.
Opera Odyssey is a fantastically inspiring journey, a coup de théâtre in the age of tweets that is bound to fascinate newcomers and aficionados alike, enticing them into exploring more of the magic of opera, and to realize that their stories, our stories, the composers’ stories are everything but one: the story of humankind.
Directing the TV series
The human voice has always been central to the opera experience, carrying as is does, the composers music. And it is the voice that remains the principal attraction for opera goers today. But in agreeing to direct this ground-breaking series, I felt an obligation to pay homage to the composers and librettists who are often little more that a footnote in a programme book. It is only right that viewers learn something of their lives and their import into the development and history of opera.
So, professionally speaking, directing this series is both the biggest challenge and responsibility of my career. The challenge lies simply in the scale of the production. The responsibility comes from ensuring the composers are portrayed with the respect they deserve, and that the history is thorough and enlightening.
My hopes for when it is all over, are that more people experience opera for the first time as a result of it; that existing opera lovers gain new insights into the composers and their works; and that our chosen charity – Musicians Without Borders – benefits enormously from the herculean professional input being invested in the project.
A Philanthropic project
– helping us to help others
The Opera Odyssey project is a non-profit and philanthropic undertaking for our production company. We are very pleased that upon its completion, Opera Odyssey will provide substantial support for the sterling work of the renowned charity Musicians Without Borders. We fully support the charity’s mission in using the power of music to bridge divides, connect communities, and heal the wounds of war.
A word from the founder
Can you help us with a modest donation?
As the Opera Odyssey series is an independent production, devoid of broadcaster funding or arts grant assistance, a number of avenues to financing the project were required. By making a modest donation, or becoming a Friend, Supporting Friend, or Patron of An Opera Odyssey, you will provide invaluable production support for the series, ensuring it can be enjoyed by millions of people across the globe. Your generosity permits, not only the filming of the series, but the translation, dubbing, and subtitling of the series into 18 languages - something otherwise impossible for our boutique production company. So many opera lovers the world over, appreciate the resource of surtitles when attending an opera. It will be clear therefore, why having our series accessible in so many languages (and by extension, to so many people), is important to us as producers of this profoundly ambitious and educational series.
Friends & Supporting Friends
By being part of a society that values the heritage of classical music and how it enriches and impacts favourably on our lives, the Friends of Opera Odyssey are vital in ensuring the promotion of opera for generations to come. Our Friends are cultural collaborators of this rich and comprehensive educational resource, and as such, they make a valuable worldwide cultural and artistic contribution.
Patrons & Product Placement
Opera Odyssey’s Corporate Patrons provide significant and strategic operational support to the project. In particular, patrons ensure the series documents recherché operatic works, that are so vital to a comprehensive history. In light of that, Opera Odyssey works intently with corporate entities to establish how best it can meet their specific business goals across a range of media. We welcome expressions of interest now.
There may be those who, despite their passion for opera, are unable to become one of our Friends or Patrons. However, they can still provide valuable help to us by simply sharing our website, twitter account, or YouTube channel with their circle of like-minded friends. It would contribute considerably in helping us produce An Opera Odyssey.
de Sarno San Giorgio
international public audition
audition entry now closed
Entry to the Opera Odyssey international public auditions is now closed. We are truly grateful to the more than 200 singers who applied, as it has reaffirmed that what we are trying to do with this project is worthwhile. We also thank Julie and the team at Yaptracker.com for promoting the auditions on our behalf.
The Opera Odyssey Book
Accompanying the TV series, but being published in advance of it, is the Opera Odyssey book. It will resemble nothing like you have ever seen before. A limited edition, large format, lavishly illustrated, glorious work on opera’s history, it will be an expression of excellence and beauty. Written in an authoritative yet approachable style, the book will be a veritable treasure trove of opera’s life from its earliest times.
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Opera Odyssey is wholly owned by
Baikal Developments Ltd.
Registered in Ireland
The Opera Odyssey book is published by
part of Baikal Developments
Printed in Malta by
Gutenberg Press Ltd.
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