OHO! Offhand Opera

A model for creating musical forms in the course of performance


vs. Interpretation




Reinhard Gagel

A presentation at vs. Interpretation Festival and Symposium, 2014, Prague by Dr. Reinhard Gagel of Exploratorium, Berlin, Germany


Abstract excerpt:

“OHO! - Offhandopera - a model for creating musical forms in the course of performance.

OHO! Offhand opera is the name of a format for singers and instrumentalists to invent and perform an opera offhand without preparation and rehearsals. It took place during the last two years in university of music and performing arts, vienna and especially in exploratorium berlin, center for improvised music and creative music pedagogics in Berlin.

The most interesting thing is that it is a way to create improvised music in the sense of an artistical production, not only as a jam session. The participants, professional artists and laymen are not chosen or cast, they decide to come to the performance and join the production. It works under special conditions, these are:

— there is a libretto or text given, selected and arranged by myself in order to organize the musical course. The texts are short plays, poems, extracts from theatre pieces and short stories. Especially dadaistic, surrealistic and soundart poetry is used.

— no musical notes and styles are prescribed, all will be invented during the session

— I function as conductor or rather as animator, to create the atmosphere and concentration of the performance

— I do this by hand signals, by body gesture, by words, spoken during the performance, and operate the formal things: i.e. who and how long s.o. will sing or play or in which mood and dynamics. I do this to support the singers and instrumentalists not to work out my own expectations.

— the main thing is the creation of music by the participants of the opera and the emerging of ideas during the about 1.5 hours lasting performance.”