Interactive Twitter opera heads to Manchester

Composition alum Michael Betteridge has written the music to #echochamber, an interactive Twitter opera that’s heading to Manchester next week.

The innovative theatrical event, brought to the stage by The Aequitas Collective and Folk Opera Iceland and starring vocal alums Rosie Middleton (2013) and Ísabella Leifsdóttir (2010), explores the impact of social media on our wellbeing and mental health as the audience is encouraged to engage with the characters onstage through a live Twitter feed, using their own social media accounts.

Based on Jon Ronson’s best-selling book, So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed, the opera started life in summer 2016 when Icelandic writer Ingunn Lara Kristjansdottir and 2013 graduate Michael started to explore misogyny and sexism on Twitter, alongside four singers.

Combining classical voices with jazz and musical theatre, they created short scenes using music, theatre and movement to explore the horror some women face online. Inspired by Ronson’s work, they later took similar issues women face online and created a one-act opera that premiered at Tjarnarbio in Reykjavik — Iceland’s leading independent theatre — in May.

Michael said: ‘Before we started this project, we knew that social media can be a dark and scary place, but as we developed our initial ideas further we realised just how terrifying the online world can be.

‘Combining the experiences of those who have suffered online public shaming with the power of musical theatre and operatic voices really brings the stories of those individuals to life. That, combined with the interactive element of being able to interact with the characters on stage via Twitter, makes for a really exciting, and different, piece of opera. 

‘There’s something for everyone in #echochamber, even if you’ve never seen an opera before — this is something new and interactive!’

The opera tours the UK this month with Manchester performances on Tuesday 14 and Wednesday 15 August at 53Two. Tickets, priced £16 and £11, are available here.

Short synopsis:

When Justie sends a misguided tweet she employs her colleague Talon to try and fix the mounting backlash on social media. Meanwhile his wife Finna, a famous lifestyle vlogger, begins an online affair with recluse Freyja. #echochamber explores how we ‘make mistakes’ online inspired by Jon Ronson’s book So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed. This Anglo-Icelandic opera invites audiences to tweet their ‘deepest, darkest secrets’ onto a live twitter feed as we contemplate: ‘where do we live nowadays? On or offline?’

8 August 2018