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MusicPart of Humanities

Premiere of prize-winning opera by Matthew Shlomowitz

Published: 4 October 2017
Electric Dreams

Dr Matthew Shlomowitz's opera 'Electric Dreams' will be premiered in the Musikprotokoll festival in Graz, Austria on 8 October 2017 with two further performances that week.

The work features an actor, 5 singers and 15 instrumentalists, including synthesiser and drum kit. The work resulted from Matthew winning the Johann-Joseph-Fux-Opernkomposition prize by Land Steiermark.

The stage direction team is headed up by Philip M. Krenn and the conductor for the premiere is Wolfgang Hattinger.

Matthew Shlomowitz describes the conception of the opera by citing Frederic Jameson's “Postmodernism, or, The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism” (1991):

The postmodernisms have, in fact, been fascinated precisely by this whole “degraded” landscape of schlock and kitsch, of TV series and Reader’s Digest culture, of advertising and motels, of the late show and the grade-B Hollywood film, of so-called paraliterature, with its airport paperback categories of the gothic and the romance, the popular biography, the murder mystery, and the science fiction or fantasy novel: materials they no longer simply “quote” as a Joyce or a Mahler might have done, but incorporate into their very substance.

As the composer explains,

"Jameson’s analysis of contemporary art and culture is highly critical. Simply put, he argues postmodern culture is empty, reflecting a capitalist victory where everything, including art, is commodified for easy consumption. I’m exactly the kind he is taking aim at. This opera features synth-pad recitative, game shows with twelve-tone funk, a pub quiz on iconic 1980s tunes, weather reports with psychedelic melisma, and easy listening renditions of late romantic Austrian symphonic slow movements, as I am fascinated by schlock and kitsch; by cultural collisions of high/low, past/present; and by stylistic surfaces."

"The value of art works that explicitly mount a social/political critique, or posit a utopic alternative, is self-defined, lofty and admirable. Jameson’s analysis touches a nerve because I cannot articulate such a clear aim. Instead I appeal to the values of confusion and contradiction, to allow space for the emotional and physiological as well as the mental, and to engage and get messy with the world and our experience of it."

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