The Royal Opera House in London has invited members of the public to help create a new libretto through the social networking site Twitter. The submitted "tweets", which may be no longer than 140 characters in length, will be set to music and performed in September.
The first scene of the as-yet-untitled work has already been completed and features a man who has been kidnapped by a group of birds. In a later development a cat intervenes to aid his escape, thought it has a surreal and experimental feel about it. One part reads: “Look in the hash tags, fair Hans!” twitters a passing myna bird. Another excerpt talks of a beast with three melting clock heads appearing and telling Hans he must answer a riddle.
It is all a little confusing. But the Royal Opera House attempts to explain things more simply on its blog: "William is languishing in a tower, having been kidnapped by a group of birds who are anxious for revenge after he has killed one of their number. Hans has promised to rescue him. And the Woman With No Name is off to her biochemistry laboratory to make a potion to let people speak to the birds."
The aim of the unusual project is to encourage more people to become involved in the creative side of opera. Alison Duthie, head of ROH2 said, "It's the people's opera and the perfect way for everyone to become involved with the inventiveness of opera as the ultimate form of storytelling." She said that the project could bring about many surprises. "Expect the unexpected - who knows how the story will evolve, but get tweeting and you can play your part in your opera."
The Royal Opera House's Twitter feed at twitter.com/youropera is still asking for public contributions for its libretto. The feed has drawn around 500 followers, but not everything is going as smoothly as organizers might have hoped. Although Act 1, Scene 2 has been completed, one "tweet" posted on Monday read: "So people, this is chaos! Please include #youropera in all tweet contributions and I'll carry on pulling it together on the blog". The final result, which will be set to music composed by Helen Porter, may not come together as expected, but the organizers concede "It’s all a bit of an experiment."