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Helios Opera Debuts With Pandemic-Driven Performance Initiative

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Helios Opera Debuts With Pandemic-Driven Performance Initiative

In its debut performance, Helios Opera, a newly formed opera company driven by its mission to use sustainable, business-minded practices to bring opera into the future, premieres a new virtual opera through its Modular Opera Project (MOP) initiative.

MOP was created to offer performing artists the opportunity to produce one-act virtual operas online, despite performance limitations due to the COVID-19 pandemic. MOP's first performance, a modern take on Francis Poulenc and Jean Cocteau's one-act opera La voix humaine (The Human Voice), debuts virtually on Friday, August 14, 7:30 pm (EDT) at heliosopera.com/mop , admission is free.

La voix humaine is directed by Helios's Founding Artistic Director Adrienne Boris and features soprano Théodora Cottarel in the role of Elle, with Celeste Marie Johnson as collaborative pianist. It is produced, filmed, and edited by Julien Rohel, with audio production by Ken Silber of Silken Audio.

MOP is Helios's founders' brainchild, created to improve the limitations challenging performing artists in their ability to rehearse and perform live during the COVID-19 pandemic. After La voix humaine, the initiative's premiere production, select performing artists will be hired to create their own virtual works remotely, receiving audio-visual training, professional equipment, marketing support, and artistic consultation from Helios Opera. The project is supported in part by Harvard Business School's Social Enterprise Initiative.

"Modular Opera Project is the ideal launching pad for Helios as a company," shares Théodora Cottarel, the company's Founding General Director. "Helios was conceived as an innovative, flexible arts company in conversation with the needs of the contemporary world, parallel to start-ups in any other field. With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, we embraced the opportunity to create a new model, allowing opera performance to continue despite pandemic challenges, and delivering agency back into the hands of young artists."

Co-Founder and Business Advisor Julien Rohel adds, "In order for opera to successfully transition online, we realized the need for an elevated value proposition - to provide our audience with unique, high-quality productions that could be created under modern day constraints, including small budgets, social distancing requirements and short timelines. We are committed to making this initiative replicable and modular, allowing artists to perform from home by applying our process and the many lessons we've learned along the way."

La voix humaine follows the story of Elle, a woman alone, exhausted and trapped, struggling to connect. In her way stands not only faulty technology but also interpersonal misunderstanding and miscommunication, alongside her own encroaching depression. As much as she detests the limits of the communication device in her hands, she knows she would be lost without it, as the only device tethering her to the person she cares most about and, ultimately, to reality.

When the COVID-19 pandemic struck, the MOP team recognized inevitable parallels between Poulenc and Cocteau's original 1958 monodrama and today's contemporary reality. Stage Director Adrienne Boris has updated the production to a present day setting.

Boris elaborates on the piece's contemporary resonance, noting, "The pandemic has only increased our dependency on technology. We feel grateful for its existence and look to calls, texting, and social networking as a link to the communities we have left behind. At the same time, we resent it for being no substitute for real, in-person interaction. During this pandemic, many either feel isolated or suffocated by those with whom they are quarantined, remain in abusive relationships, or are unable to receive adequate mental health care. In all of these ways, Elle's struggles mirror our own."

Admission to La voix humaine is free. To reserve a ticket, visit heliosopera.com/mop.


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