Last night’s Tap:Ex Tables Turned lived up to the hype. It was a pretty incredible experience but extremely difficult to describe. The first half consisted of Nicole Lizée’s reprocessed clips from classic films (The Shining, The Man Who Knew Too Much, The Birds, The Graduate and, of course, The Sound of Music but there were others). It was mostly short loop stuff; for example, the ball bouncing scene from TSoM over and over again. Beside the sound from the film there was live accompaniment from Ben Reimer on a variety of tuned percussion instruments and Carla Huhtanen with a variety of vocal effects and weirdly disturbing acting, helped along by the fact that she does look a bit like Julie Andrews, especially exploding Julie Andrews. I think there may have been more electronics from Nicole in the mix too. It was weird and fascinating and very enjoyable.
The second half was the same basic format but using Maria Callas clips; not just the classic performance material but interviews with Lord Harewood (of all people) as well. Again it was very disorienating and there was some more fine singing and acting from Carla, who doesn’t look (or sound) at all like Maria Callas. Both sets lasted about 25 minutes which was perfect. The common temptation in experimentation to stretch an idea further than it will go was avoided here.
If the goal was to make us look at overly familiar, iconic material in a new way, then I think the gang succeeded admirably. Implications for opera performance practice? Who knows?
There’s one more performance tonight at 8pm in the Ernest Balmer Studio.