Opera can be more than what it is now, it doesn’t have to be confined to the same old classics. It can be modernized while keeping the emotional intensity that is captured in the high octaves of the performer’s voices. Tapestry Opera is creating pieces that are bringing Opera to the forefront of innovation. On February 17th Tapestry Opera released a short 5 minute film called I Can’t Breathe on YoutTube. The film depicts the conversation between a son and his father and the love that is there even in conflict. It tackles the real life events of the George Floyd protests and the fear of the ensuing pandemic.
This Opera is accompanied by a talk with Andrew Moodie and Darren Fung, the creators of I Can’t Breathe, and host of Tap In, host Michael Hidetoshi Mori. They start the conversation off by discussing how the film was created and the inspiration behind it. The only way to properly express what both Andrew and Darren were experiencing during the George Floyd protests was through the mediums of opera and film – the latter which was impressively executed in one take.
The whole introduction is a perfect segway into the film. However, the talk that followed the film may have been too drawn out for a virtual showing. The guest speakers discussed the film after it was shown but the dialogue slowly progressed to dissecting the art of opera, its details and nuances. Each individual topic was interesting and important to understanding the growth of opera and what it can become, but it wasn’t what I was expecting when I sat down to watch the hour long Tap In discussion – which made it easy to tap out.
That being said the film was incredibly powerful and moving and can be watched without sitting through the ensuing conversation. The set of the film consists of simple unadorned household items in the centre of the space surrounded by projections depicting scenes of the protests. The camera follows the performers in a way that allows the viewer to take in everything that is happening while at the same time directing their focus to what is important. The film explores sensitive topics in a safe environment. And the words from father to son “Be mad, change the world, do things I couldn't” hit a chord that resonates with everyone. But this is not the first time we have experienced events like this and it may not be the last.
The performers' voices are riveting and the subject matter will leave you speechless. I Can’t Breathe is the perfect length and reminds us that we are all, in our own way, suffocating. Watch the film, listen to the introduction, and get some insight into the depth of experiences behind this production (if you can get through the entire post-film discussion). Opera is important, it is evolving, and this film is testament of that evolution.
Author: Nicole Decsey
Dates: February 17, 2022 (Recording Available)