NXT creatives

Agnes Steiner

Universität für angewandte Kunst Wien

The Opera »Varieties of Religious Experience«—a Performance on Pages

Based on the contemporary opera by the composer Gene Pritsker and the writings of the philosopher William James, Agnes Steiner's The Opera 'Varieties of Religious Experience'—a Performance on Pages creates a dramaturgically treated, graphical visualisation of the opera's music and text, complementary to the existing libretto. It allows the viewer and listener to experience a self-contained visual representation, beyond the opera stage that both accompanies and complements the music. The album package consists of two books, a map and the audio CD of the opera. The first book is comprised of individual booklets, each issue matching the respective musical movement in the opera. The original scores are collected in a second book. A special navigation system connects the two books with each other, and the map gives a simple introduction to the opera's plot and to the relations between the protagonists. It also serves as an overview of the content of Book 1. Almost all photos used in the visualisation were produced with a digital pinhole camera, a reference to the discrepancy between the opera's contemporary music and the historical libretto. The typographic concept takes up the main subject of the opera – the transcendental experience – and uses it to transform the format of the text by gradually overlaying two typefaces. The opera is currently being recorded in New York and will be released in September 2011.