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Experiments in Opera's New Podcast AQUA NET & FUNYUNS Launches in December

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The podcast features 5 delirious stories told through music, singing, and immersive sound design.

Experiments in Opera's New Podcast AQUA NET & FUNYUNS Launches in December

Starting Monday, November 23, Experiments in Opera (EiO)-the mad scientists behind Video Operas, Radio Operas, Binge Operas-will offer critics the chance to preview EIO's new five-part podcast opera AQUA NET & FUNYUNS (available to the general public for free after December 7).

Aqua Net & Funyuns is a podcast opera featuring five newly-commissioned, original stories, each written by a different librettist/composer combo. Drawing from the style of audio fiction podcasts, the 25-minute, serial episodes are designed specifically to tell compelling narratives with voices, instruments, and immersive sound design. There are no visual elements.

Each episode highlights the cliff-hanger nature of serial narratives and the playful possibilities of the podcast medium, by alternating between all five operas in "round-robin" style. Listeners will need to tune in over multiple episodes to hear the complete story.

The stories and librettos featured in Aqua Net & Funyuns emerged from a one-month iteration of EiO's innovative Writers' Room project, which brought together a group of writers from the world of podcast fiction to quickly create individual episodes, using the model of a television writer's room. In the case of Aqua Net & Funyuns, the four librettists each tell separate stories that are linked through hidden "easter egg" details that appear in each episode. Developed through a communal process of feedback and workshopping, the librettos share an embrace of genre fiction, non-normative relationships, otherworldly phenomena, emotional hi-jinks, and compelling characters.

Aqua Net & Funyuns is an extension of Experiments in Opera's long-standing explorations of alternative mediums for contemporary opera. Examples include EiO's first podcast opera Buick City, 1:00 AM ("Jam-packed with intrigue...top-notch, gorgeously produced"-I Care If You Listen) which was released in 2018; Video Operas ("fascinating...charming"-The New York Times) in 2016; and Radio Operas ("innovative opera miniatures"-WQXR) in 2013. These programs have positioned Experiments in Opera as a perennial disrupter of opera's business-as-usual approach.

FROM EIO'S COMPOSER-LEADERS:

"In March 2020, as the world was shutting down and arts organizations (including ours) were cancelling their spring seasons, EiO was forced to consider how we could keep presenting our work in an upended world. We discovered quickly that our model has always been fleet and flexible, with strong ability to respond to the stories and ideas of artists working in the moment. And we have already had tremendous success with exploring video and audio-only mediums as the venue for original commissioned material. Our first podcast opera, Buick City, 1:00 AM (released in the fall of 2018) garnered universal praise for its 4-part serialized story and reached over 10,000 listeners across the world. We also have been pioneering a model for libretto writing in a TV-inspired Writers' Room, that allows us to create an inclusive space for artists new to opera and to generate much more material on a faster timeline. Creating five new 25-minute audio operas over the course of summer/fall 2020 has been a tremendous challenge. It has also been a huge opportunity for us to demonstrate a new model for creating digitally-native operas that stretch the art form and our collective imaginations."

- Aaron Siegel, Jason Cady, Kamala Sankaram


AQUA NET & FUNYUNS - THE PROGRAM


Beauty Shot
Libretto by Daniel Shepard
Music by Tariq Al-Sabir
What starts out as a simple trim turns into a murderous trial of infidelity at a quiet hair salon in Kansas.

Another One Bites
Libretto and Music by Jason Cady
A high school student in the 1980's ditches an anti-drug assembly to smoke pot and hides from a cop in a porta-potty-which becomes a portal to a parallel universe.

Ships That Pass
Libretto by Cara Ehlenfeldt
Music by Aaron Siegel
When Alden discovers that his deceased mother authored queer fanfiction, he reexamines his high school memories and his reluctance to tell her about his own queer identity.

The Understudy
Libretto by Jason Cady and Cara Ehlenfeldt
Music by Kamala Sankaram
An opera company hires a private eye to go undercover as an understudy to a soprano. There's only one problem: she can't sing.

Arkana Aquarium
Libretto by Annie-Sage Whitehurst
Music by Michi Wiancko
A widowed janitor at an aquarium becomes convinced his wife has been reincarnated.
As the newly acquired fish.


PERFORMERS

Kamala Sankaram, soprano
Rachel Doehring, soprano
Joanie Brittingham, soprano
Eliza Bonet, mezzo-soprano
Rachel Duval, mezzo-soprano
Brandon Snook, tenor
Eric McKeever, baritone
Joshua Jeremiah, bass-baritone

Dmitry Glivinskiy, piano and music director
Jeanann Dara, viola and violin
Jeff Hudgins, saxophones
Drew Fleming, electric guitar
Pat Swoboda, bass

Cara Ehlenfeldt, sound design
Jeff Cook, recording and mixing
Hannis Brown, theme song


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