Opera North and Newcastle University have announced a new three-year collaboration in the hope of transforming performance and audience accessibility with a combination of academic research and the operatic stage.
Aims include measuring audience responses to opera using neuroscience, and an exploration of the voice on the stage – from vocal health to the representation of "marginalised" voices.
Among the first outcomes is a new podcast Staging the Voice, Voicing the Stage, which brings together academics and Opera North staff; and a collaborative doctoral award, which will give a PhD student the chance to work with both organisations on innovating captioning and surtitles.
The partnership also extends to academics and students from the university's advanced computer science, civil engineering and mathematics & economics departments working on the opera company's "live data" problems, and the faculties of medical sciences and science, agriculture and engineering collaborating at the end of this month on a symposium on animals, emotions and empathy, inspired by Opera North’s recent production of Janacek’s The Cunning Little Vixen and workshops on the opera at a local Newcastle school.
Becky Smith – head of academic partnerships at Opera North, said: “We are excited by the opportunities of this new partnership. We can already see how our activities are supporting our mutual efforts to connect with communities in the region.”
Professor Jennifer Richards, director of the university’s humanities research institute, added: “This has been many years in the making. The opportunity to collaborate with such an inspirational partner is an enormous opportunity to develop new ways of linking across sectors.”
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