World’s First Twitter Opera


I’m sitting here researching, I tripped over a fun bit of news. The first Twitter opera premiered this weekend!

The name of the opera is Twitterdammerung.  It’s part of three days of Deloitte Ignite 09 events going on in London. It’s a crowdsourced work of art that involved more than 900 people. The opera was announced at the start of August 2009 and, of course, the opera has its own Twitter page: @youropera.

The Twitter page is essential to the concept.  The goal was to create an opera created with 140 character or less tweets building upon previous tweets.  With tweets and music composed by Helen Porter, Twitterdammerrung seems to be a seven act evolution in how to make an opera.  It attracted more than 2,100 followers in less than a month. The Royal Opera House has a YouTube page, but the one video there is choppy. I got lucky and found a bit of news coverage from the Channel 4 News website.  The page even has video from their coverage of the event. The Royal Opera House’s YouTube page?  Nothing good yet, but here is the link as who knows what will come up.

So how is it?

Of course, the opera has its critics. The first review I read was from the Telegraph UK’s web page. Telegraph critic, Igor Toronyi-Lalic, summed it up as this:

Of course, in the end, one could not block out the noxious premise of this stunt. Accessible opera for the masses? Why not try a performance of Carmen?

And, ultimately, Twitterdammerung couldn’t transcend or hide that fact that it was little more than a cheap gimmick. But as cheap gimmicks go, this was a good ‘un.

If I say so myself, that’s not bad at all. Even with it being a gimmick, it was good. My reply to his question. Carmen for the masses has been done. Why not try something new?

I can’t see an opera purist taking to the idea of a crowdsourced opera built with 140 character tweets.

However, I think it’s a nice way for a very traditional form of Western entertainment to stay relevant or, at least, to signal that its aware that communication is changing and experimenting to see how those changes can impact art. It’s definitely an evolution in how social media contributes to how we communicate.  Also, it helps to diminish the haughtiness of high art a little bit.

I like what Alison Duthie, the head of ROH2 at the Royal Opera House had to say on this experiment: perspective much better:

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.

It all sounds wonderfully interesting.  For those, like me, who couldn’t make it, here is the program of events:


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