Losing Her Voice
Dr Elisabeth Kelly
Assistant Professor in Music Composition, Faculty of Arts
Lakeside worked with Assistant Professor Elizabeth Kelly to stage her first opera, Losing Her Voice which premiered in the Djanogly Theatre in April 2019. The opera was funded through the OPERA America’s Opera Grants for Female Composers programme, supported by the Virginia B. Toumlin Foundation, a British Academy grant, and a ‘Heritage & the Digital’ Research Priority Area Development grant.
Taking an interdisciplinary and innovative approach, Elizabeth Kelly worked closely with Christopher Greenhalgh and Adrian Hazzard from the University’s Mixed Reality Lab to explore interactive technologies that allow audience members to engage directly with the performance through a specially designed app.
Losing Her Voice was inspired by the life of the American opera diva Geraldine Farrar a famous opera singer in the early twentieth century. Farrar made a name for herself singing in the grand opera houses of Europe and America including the Berlin State Opera and the Metropolitan Opera in New York. She came to the attention of Cecil B. De Mille who invited her to star in his 1915 silent film version of Carmen. Farrar already had a strong female fan base, known as ‘Gerry-flappers’ and with her film success she became perhaps America’s first true superstar.
Although Farrar lived in the early 20th-century the themes continue to resonate today. The opera explores the cult of celebrity and a world in which fans and audience are no longer merely observers but active participants in the unfolding story.