UNOPERA is an experiment left to chance, an ART@WAR operation cultivated in a Spring residency at High Concept Laboratories. The experiment ultimately dismantles and restructures our current conception of opera. Acting as impresario, or operatic entrepreneur, Blake Russell will force 12 creative directors to co-act with 12 artistic ensembles & devise a 12-minute instance from over 300 years of opera including Dido & Aeneas, Through the Looking Glass, David Bowie’s The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the ever-relevant themes resounding within 1984.
Inspired by sugary cereal & classic cartoons, UNOPERA engages artists, instigates investigation & interactive participation over a sampling of local, organic cuisine. The High Concept Laboratories studio will transform from creation to production, reaching out and teaching in to unify established creatives and local professionals within the full process of the experiment to build shared resources with existing communities and emerging artists.
Profits generated will directly support youth art education programs.
Blake Russell digested opera through sugary cereal and classic cartoons at an early age. That appreciation takes various artistic roles with ideas of reevaluating convention to enable a new vision and a shared collective experience. Inspired by the polymaths of the Renaissance and an expanding a history of theatrics, Russell develops collaborative experiments for the application and reflection the results supply. Selected experiments interest public performance, invisible theatre, improvisation, visual chemical arts, staged combat, wheat-pasting, instrumentation, dramaturgy & DIY-film.
Recent explorations in performance roles include: The Labors/Precession at Museum of Contemporary Art/Hyde Park Art Center with Mark Jeffery & Judd Morrissey, Supermarket Sweep!, a dance film funded by the Chicago Dancemaker’s Forum, a 5-man adaptation of War & Peace, Suitcase Shakespeare Company’s acro-violent Othello at the Chicago Fringe Festival, flaming swordplay, years of musical theatre, nude theatre with The Living Canvas and a reprising starring role in Blotch, a new play by Evin Marie to benefit local AIDS advocacy.
His last curated event, ARTWAR, was based on Tolstoy’s essays of civil disobedience while ringleading over 100 varied artists & 1000 show-goers within a 7000-square foot loft space. Here is a time-lapse of what you missed: