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Four characters in the anonymity of the chatroom… the 21st century “Un Ballo in Maschera”.CHAT is a single-act, hi-tech opera combining contemporary music, video art and live electronics with traditional classical opera and performance arts. The libretto, an intricate mosaic of excerpts from real chatroom sessions and snippets from Da Ponte’s libretto for Mozart’s "Cosi Fan Tutte", is all about the eternal desire to reach out and seek true love. The result transcends beyond the banality of the language and the medium, and unfolds the emotions and the interactions of the protagonists. CHAT, true to its title, is a true contemporary opera. With computer screens pouring constant dialogue onto the audience, electronic soundtracks weaved into the live performance and a non-conventional structure and setting. it is a cynical take on technology and people.



The anonymity of the internet is deceiving. Four characters/archetypes, adequately nicknamed “ScaredGirl” – the lover, “Shout4Joy” – the needy, “Butterfly1228” – the appeaser and “Fantom” – the observer, engage in a chatroom session, trying to reveal the true identity and expose the weaknesses of each other. A love quartet forms, as falling in love is almost instantaneous in the chatroom. The characters “whisper” each other, desperately seeking intimacy. Their attempts to find true love, however, are doomed to be futile. Under the veil of the chatroom, the characters face the rude awakening of their own incapability of being truthful. The four movements – “Anybody from?”, “Whisper me”, “Will you marry me?” and “Disconnect from server” - take us through the full circle of falling in love and disillusionment. The characters achieve redemption only in the finale, when for the first time they unveil themselves and exit the chatroom.



Four vocalists/narrators convey the chatroom activity. They maintain their anonymity for the most part of the opera, singing behind a semi-opaque projection curtain, and expose themselves only in the finale. Four instrumental soloists - piano, accordion, cello and percussion - counterpart the vocalists with extended featured sections. Video screens are used to create the chatroom environment by constantly feeding chat content and projecting images and video art that interact with the on- stage performance. The conductor and the 10-piece ensemble bring together all of the elements. The musicians and the conductor are placed on the stage, rather than in the traditional pit, making them an integral part of the visual experience, not only the musical performance.



Performed at the Rijksakademie Amsterdam







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