City Opera Vancouver presents its first online opera, with The Human Voice, an adaptation of the 1928 play by Cocteau and the 1958 opera by Poulenc.
In this contemporary take on La voix humaine, a woman’s one-sided telephone conversation with her lover changes gender and environment; in the isolation of a global pandemic, a lone man — sung by Canadian tenor Isaiah Bell — tries desperately to communicate with his male lover. A lagging connection and a frozen screen are the present-day signals that technology still doesn’t cut it when it comes to human interaction.
“Our bodies, or whatever the part of us is that needs the real thing, are hopelessly old-fashioned,” says Bell of The Human Voice. “As long as we live in the facsimile, stuck on how things should be or could be, we live undernourished, missing out on real life as it unspools between dropped phone calls, while we are waiting for everything to go back to normal.”
Featuring Bell and pianist Roger Parton, City Opera Vancouver’s The Human Voice is presented in seven episodes, released nightly on the company’s YouTube channel. The first episode is available now, but whet your appetite for the full thing with their trailer below: