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by Opera Occulta

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Opera Occulta 2020 is an experimental collaboration between The Museum of Witchcraft and Magic, Cornwall and singers and musicians of The Royal Conservatoire, The Hague.

Responding to the reality of a summer in quarantine, deprived of live performance, the virtual ‘company' looked closer to wherever 'home' was, whether in exile or in confinement. Created across international boundaries, some singers and collaborating musicians were physically unable to meet, so sound and voice were periodically mixed in entirely separate locations. Recordings were made over summer on iPhones, laptops and synths, occasionally with conventional accompaniment recorded on 4 Tracks, captured in bedrooms. Singers mixed harpsichord with electric guitar, bassoon, recorder, viola, melodica and voice.

The guidelines were:
For performance and recording; use only what you have at your disposal. If that's an iPhone: think about what you can do with an iPhone?
Study the Museum collections, library or archives to better understand your character’s magical life.

There was only one main rule:
Choose a magical subject from classical, baroque or early repertoire and then transform its usual orchestral setting...

We have all seen beautifully sung productions where the Queen of The Night is about as magical as Snoopy. That's not entertaining. As anyone who saw our reimagined production of the Mozart opera last year, it's not called The MAGIC Flute for nothing.

Taking opera and throwing it in the blender, some singers became their own ensembles! Others are no stranger to solo performance, and some already use synths, electronics, and sound to create a distinctive between-the-worlds landscape. Some learned entirely new ways of working collaboratively and introduced unfamiliar instruments to great effect.

Subject matter ranges from Love Potions, Human Sacrifice, Wizards, Demons, Witch Queens, Shapeshifting, Divination and Mediumship to the Spirit World itself.

Brought to you by accomplished singers and musicians who are not afraid to experiment and challenge, these recordings transcend convention to bravely personify the magical characters they are portraying. Depictions range from the laments of unhinged witches to the raptures of heroines caught within the embrace of priapic demons, via amorous tinctures and the rantings of psychotic wizards.

These are not studio recordings! While some of the tracks have a live / bootleg feel, all of them are extraordinary in their own way. The result is a unique and fresh take on some operatic staples, with a new, 21st Century, bravura twist.


released December 4, 2020

Produced by The Museum of Witchcraft and Magic with Catrin Wyn Davies, Sean Bell, Gita Rebeka Dirveika, and singers and musicians of The Royal Conservatoire, Den Haag.

Conceived by Catrin Wyn Davies and Fergus Moffat
Advisory Panellists - Catrin Wyn Davies, Sean Bell, Gita Rebeka Dirveika

Sean Bell - Countertenor and keyboards
Paulina Miranda Bello - Soprano and keyboards
Filipe Faustino Martins - Bass Baritone
Juncai Zhang - Tenor
Ieva Gorda - Soprano
Eriks Gorda, Ieva Gorda - Chorus
Jasperina Verheij - Mezzo Soprano
Francisca Branco - Soprano
Yuh Ichi Sakai - Baritone
Sandra Siniväli - Soprano
Sean Bell - Countertenor and keyboards

Leonid Nikishin - VIolin
Georgi Sztojanov - Organ
João Borralho - Percussion
João Brito - Percussion
Ricardo Mendes - Percussion
Iris Bramberger - Electric Guitar
Ilil Danin - Harpsichord, Cembalista
Arlo Shore - Electric Guitar
Jasperina Verhej - Recorder, Bassoon, Melodica, Harpsichord

Arrangements by Maarten Bauer, Sean Bell, Paulina Miranda Bello, Gita Rebeka Dirveika, Georgi Sztojanov, Jamie Alpherts, Jasperina Verheij


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Opera Occulta England, UK

Opera Occulta is a quarantine collaboration between The Museum of Witchcraft and Magic, Cornwall
and the singers and musicians of The Royal Conservatoire of The Hague. Working remotely across frontiers,and inspired by magical storytelling in baroque and classical repertoire, it is informed by the Museum's collections and enabled by the collective gifts of all the musicians and singers involved. ... more

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