Charlottesville, Virginia’s Victory Hall Opera (VHO) has announced the February 27 release of “Unsung,” a documentary film created after the cancellation of its production of “La traviata.”
In response to the cancellation, Artistic Director Miriam Gordon-Stewart presented to the principals an exciting challenge: create a movie filmed only on iPhones, in their own cities, under Gordon-Stewart’s remote direction.
“When the pandemic brought the world of opera to a screaming halt, something interesting began to happen,” stated Gordon-Stewart in the VHO press release. “While bigger companies felt unable to create any kind of artistic offering, smaller companies took the lead, and some truly innovative ideas began to surface.”
“Unsung” stars soprano Rachelle Durkin (as herself/Violetta), tenor Victor Robertson, (as himself/Alfredo) baritone Carlton Ford (as himself/Germont), mezzo-soprano and VHO Director of Music Brenda Patterson, and guest artist, bass-baritone Matthew Burns.
“It is crucial that these stories be heard: the stories of singers whose calling and life’s work has been banned in the time of COVID, with singing suddenly feared as a virus-spreading danger,” Gordon-Stewart said. “For them, being a singer is an identity, one that cannot be turned off, just because the music stops.”
“Unsung” brings the audience into the artists’ lives as they confront incredibly tough decisions: How to pay the bills? How to provide for their children? How to find artistic courage in the face of industry collapse and social unrest?
VHO then drew the cast together in Charlottesville to create a socially distanced recording of the opera. According to the press release, Director of Music Patterson wanted to “feature a high-quality soundtrack that could capture the fullness of their voices.”
Aided by the Grammy® Award-winning sound producer Blanton Alspaugh (Soundmirror, Inc.) the VHO recording accompanies the cast’s stories as the music they carry within themselves.
“Unsung” will be released online as part of VHO’s FLUX21 Season. The film will remain available on the VHO website for a limited time following the premiere. The soundtrack recording (a new, live recording of a chamber version of the opera, arranged by Brenda Patterson) will be released on iTunes and as a CD along with the film.