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Opera di Peroni: An Immersive Re-Imagining of Italian Opera

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KWES

When I first learned Peroni and Go Opera wanted to work with me, I was stunned, then when I found that they wanted to work with me on reinterpreting arias, I was confused as well as excited. Having not coming from a classical background, I initially didn't know how this was going to work without me learning how to read music properly, but if it had required me to I would certainly have attempted to take on the challenge. I love a challenge or any opportunity to learn more about music, especially types I don't know as much about, like opera.

Prior to this project, I had only seen opera a few times on television (with and without subtitles), had never seen it live, but it always struck me as something dramatic with elements of bombast and etherealness, the juxtapositions of triumph and tragedy, it was what I considered as "operatic", really it seemed like its own thing.

Whilst working on this project, I've found opera to be quite similar to pop music, especially within the subject matter it covers. Giacomo Puccini's La Rondine which we're reinterpreting, is a case in point encapsulating many types of love, and a lot of pop music involves that. The real twist in our reinterpretation of La Rondine is the modernisation of the setting but the messages and sentiments are retained. Another similarity I found was how musically familiar some of La Rondine sounded from the first listen, especially how some of the arias resolved.

Go Opera wanted me to approach the project like how I would normally work, or perhaps wanted me to bring what they would call "my style" to the table, I was very humbled that they didn't want me to alter the way I work. I also think they knew from the off I would relish the opportunity, upon them listening to music I had made or had been involved in, my thirst for creativity and innovation, as well as my love and appreciation for "serious" music.

The role I think I've assumed in this project is one of another instrumentalist where I'm using my ears to play along/almost improvise with the other instrumentalists, and I guess one of a sonic director, creating sonic backdrops to accentuate the atmospheres and moods of the arias. So it actually isn't too far from some of the session work I had done in the past, it's just that in this case, there is more encouragement from Go Opera and Peroni for me to impose my sound, and in turn for us to take opera into a possibly exciting and unique direction. Collectively, we also aim to open up opera to people who like myself didn't grow up listening to it, and in doing that, it should hopefully have a knock on effect, in that they would want to go to an opera like they would want to go to a gig or to the cinema. We also aim to take avid opera goers to places where they may have or haven't imagined opera could go.

As for everything else I'm up to for the rest of this year. I'm busy finishing off my debut album, I have a lot of production/writing work lined up, and hopefully will be doing some soundtrack work, but we'll see. I'm just happy and grateful to be in a position to explore several creative avenues in music.

Following the London events (12 - 16 March) the Opera di Peroni production of La Rondine will head to Bristol for a two-day residency (27 and 28 March) at the Bristol Paintworks.

Exclusive tickets will be available to purchase on the Peroni UK Facebook page (www.facebook.com/peroniuk) and via www.seetickets.com from Monday 4 February.

For more information on the events, please visit: www.operadiperoni.com.

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Kwes recreates La Rondine

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