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Hedvig Jalhed, PhD student
Photo: Stig Magnus Thorsén

Live Action Opera

Research project
Active research
Project owner
Academy of Music and Drama

Short description

Dissertation by Hedvig Jalhed.
This study introduces ludic elements in the creation and performances of new, immersive operatic concepts. The project aims to construct and experiment with a framework for alternative and innovative formats or subgenres in operatic art – based on immersion, relations and play. The participants become players and characters with an explorative and/or mission-based approach, performing and experiencing a musical drama from within.

One overall aim is to investigate what ludo-immersive opera can add to operatic practice, by offering emancipatory conditions for the participants in their different roles. An additional purpose is to seek to implement formats that contrast to "traditional" musical drama and so called postopera, in order to contribute to a greater diversity. I suggest that further experimenting is possible on operatic dramaturgy, with (role-)playing as an immersive and narrative feature in for instance operatic, hybrid subgenres as role-play opera and larp opera.

My research questions are:

  • What can ludo-immersive opera add to operatic practice and ultimately help us in broadening our understanding of the art-form?
  • How can ludo-immersive opera be understood and interpreted?
  • In which ways can ludic play effect agency and relations in immersive opera productions and performances?

The study in opera and music drama is connected to the fields of immersive theatre, location theatre, and participatory theatre. My perspective is situated in my dual practice as artist-researcher and I emphasize my first-person view by participant observations and reflections upon my own creative practices. My methodology is twofold: For the research activities inside the opera ensemble, a cyclic model based on participatory action research (PAR) is used. Implemented as a series of "proofs-of-concept", the research is also demonstrated in a number of hybrid chamber operas. The material is collected from qualitative interviews, surveys, correspondence, mediated information. Furthermore, recordings – where the actions, reactions, reflections, and experiences of the ensemble members and the visitors are expressed – are used as research material.