A Bit of an Introduction

26 Aug

As a diabetic since the age of seven, I have seen friends and fellow diabetics follow a variety of paths that put diabetes at the forefront of their lives, and until a few years ago, I had no idea how I’d ever be able to make an impact on the world of diabetes. Writing an opera about diabetes has allowed me to bring light to an invisible illness by giving the audience the experiences of being diabetic.

As a composer, I’ve been obsessed with musicalizing extramusical experiences and concepts such as humour and disease. I have found that shared experience and audience interaction are powerful tools for connecting music to the extramusical, and those tools became the basis for creating Diagnosis: Diabetes.

While the opera is very specifically about diabetes, the struggle faced by the main character is universal amongst the youth of today: burnout and apathy. In exploring these themes by engaging audience interaction, the project simultaneously connects opera to a potential new audience of diabetics, and shares an essentially diabetic experience with any audience members who aren’t afflicted.

One of the most exciting elements to this project was that the opera wouldn’t just involve the audience in a trivial way. The audience actually becomes a character in the opera, with tensions and a relationship that develops between both the protagonist (Charlie) and the antagonist (Narrator). Having had success with audience interaction in previous pieces, this libretto gave me the opportunity to develop that technique further and on a grander scale.

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