Something electronica this way comes

The show “Blood Will Have Blood,” written by a Yale undergraduate, deconstructs the world of “Macbeth” by placing Shakespeare’s masterpiece in a 21st-century context.
The show “Blood Will Have Blood,” written by a Yale undergraduate, deconstructs the world of “Macbeth” by placing Shakespeare’s masterpiece in a 21st-century context. Photo by Carly Lovejoy.

This weekend, Shakespeare’s King of Scotland will sing over electronica.

“Blood Will Have Blood,” an independently produced opera written by undergraduates, deconstructs the world of “Macbeth.” The opera abandons “Macbeth”’s linear narrative to explore the tragedy’s twisted moral logic through monologues by the play’s characters — Macbeth, Lady Macbeth, Duncan, Banquo, Macduff and the three witches — which will be presented as sung poems and recitatives, during which singers will respond to improvised electronic music by the conductor. “Blood Will Have Blood” will use a 16th century art form to create a 21st century adaptation of the timeless tragedy.

“‘Macbeth,’ since it’s been in our history for so long, is now more than just the text,” said Baldwin Giang ’14, who will direct the opera and composed its music.

Most traditional operas have recitatives, quasi-spoken segments that advance the plot, and arias, moments frozen in time allowing the characters to sing. “Blood Will Have Blood” inverts this structure by chronologically putting its arias first, using them to drive the plot, Giang said. In this inverted structure, the recitatives will present original language from past “Macbeth” productions.

The arias include original poems written by six Yale undergraduates. The music will be performed by a chamber orchestra, and the arias are arranged to reveal themes of “Macbeth” that may not be as apparent when the play is read front to back, Giang explained.

During the recitatives, the conductor will use a MIDI keyboard — a handheld grid that allows musicians to play electronic music samples — to incorporate clips from more traditional productions of “Macbeth.” The singers will then improvise to the noises they hear, to which the conductor will respond with more sounds. Giang saw this as an opportunity for the singers to engage with past interpretations of Shakespeare’s work and explore modern music’s possibilities.

“I’m really interested in the way electronics can represent processes in human life,” Giang said.

Terrence Chin-Loy ’14, who plays Macbeth, said works like Giang’s challenge the idea that opera is a remnant of high society by providing new music that audiences can identify with. He said modern operas like “Blood Will Have Blood” do not use the tropes that many classical ones rely on, allowing modern audiences to connect more easily with the work.

“If we’re going to attract new people to the opera houses, new works are going to get people there,” Chin-Loy said. “It’s how you keep opera alive.”

Steffi Weinraub ’12, who plays Lady Macbeth, said she thinks “Blood Will Have Blood” is different from other opera performances on campus. She explained that the Yale Opera, comprised of School of Music students, usually performs classical works, especially Mozart, because his works stretch the limit of what young voices can do.

Weinraub added that “Blood Will Have Blood”’s many discordant tritones are the most difficult notes for the human voice to sing, and therefore parallel the work’s deconstructive themes. She said her aria’s music explores Lady Macbeth’s psyche, and particularly her conception of gender and power, noting that the highest note she sings is on the word “mother.”

“All of her imagery is fraught with frustration regarding the exploitation of her gender,” Weinraub said.

Ashby Cogan ’14, the managing director of the undergraduate Opera Theatre of Yale College, said many modern operas have become shorter and incorporated electronic music — “Blood Will Be Blood” will be only 35 minutes long. She said that while she thinks opera is a versatile art form, she sees this as part of a larger trend to cater to short attention spans and students’ busy schedules.

“We like our sitcoms to be 25 minutes,” Cogan said.

“Blood Will Have Blood”’s last performance will be on April 13.

This weekend, Shakespeare’s King of Scotland will sing over electronica.

“Blood Will Have Blood,” an independently produced opera written by undergraduates, deconstructs the world of “Macbeth.” The opera abandons “Macbeth”’s linear narrative to explore the tragedy’s twisted moral logic through monologues by the play’s characters — Macbeth, Lady Macbeth, Duncan, Banquo, Macduff and the three witches — which will be presented as sung poems and recitatives, during which singers will respond to improvised electronic music by the conductor. “Blood Will Have Blood” will use a 16th century art form to create a 21st century adaptation of the timeless tragedy.

“‘Macbeth,’ since it’s been in our history for so long, is now more than just the text,” said Baldwin Giang ’14, who will direct the opera and composed its music.

Most traditional operas have recitatives, quasi-spoken segments that advance the plot, and arias, moments frozen in time allowing the characters to sing. “Blood Will Have Blood” inverts this structure by chronologically putting its arias first, using them to drive the plot, Giang said. In this inverted structure, the recitatives will present original language from past “Macbeth” productions.

The arias include original poems written by six Yale undergraduates. The music will be performed by a chamber orchestra, and the arias are arranged to reveal themes of “Macbeth” that may not be as apparent when the play is read front to back, Giang explained.

During the recitatives, the conductor will use a MIDI keyboard — a handheld grid that allows musicians to play electronic music samples — to incorporate clips from more traditional productions of “Macbeth.” The singers will then improvise to the noises they hear, to which the conductor will respond with more sounds. Giang saw this as an opportunity for the singers to engage with past interpretations of Shakespeare’s work and explore modern music’s possibilities.

“I’m really interested in the way electronics can represent processes in human life,” Giang said.

Terrence Chin-Loy ’14, who plays Macbeth, said works like Giang’s challenge the idea that opera is a remnant of high society by providing new music that audiences can identify with. He said modern operas like “Blood Will Have Blood” do not use the tropes that many classical ones rely on, allowing modern audiences to connect more easily with the work.

“If we’re going to attract new people to the opera houses, new works are going to get people there,” Chin-Loy said. “It’s how you keep opera alive.”

Steffi Weinraub ’12, who plays Lady Macbeth, said she thinks “Blood Will Have Blood” is different from other opera performances on campus. She explained that the Yale Opera, comprised of School of Music students, usually performs classical works, especially Mozart, because his works stretch the limit of what young voices can do.

Weinraub added that “Blood Will Have Blood”’s many discordant tritones are the most difficult notes for the human voice to sing, and therefore parallel the work’s deconstructive themes. She said her aria’s music explores Lady Macbeth’s psyche, and particularly her conception of gender and power, noting that the highest note she sings is on the word “mother.”

“All of her imagery is fraught with frustration regarding the exploitation of her gender,” Weinraub said.

Ashby Cogan ’14, the managing director of the undergraduate Opera Theatre of Yale College, said many modern operas have become shorter and incorporated electronic music — “Blood Will Be Blood” will be only 35 minutes long. She said that while she thinks opera is a versatile art form, she sees this as part of a larger trend to cater to short attention spans and students’ busy schedules.

“We like our sitcoms to be 25 minutes,” Cogan said.

“Blood Will Have Blood”’s last performance will be on April 13.

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