Media opera ‘Letter of happiness’ by Dmitri Kourliandski

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The idea of the opera came literally at the beginning of the isolation period – in the second half of March. We all regularly receive spam, in particular the so-called “Nigerian letters” (they describe the tragic fate of fictional rich people and propose to share the capital left by victims of accidents and fatal diseases)…   

In a situation where communication with the outside world is limited and communication is largely displaced into the Internet, it seemed interesting to Dmitri Kourliandski to imagine that these fictional characters and virtual reality is the only world with which interaction is possible. Virtually all of the opera’s material – both text and visual and musical – is obtained with the help of available online generators of random texts, melodies, rhythms and photographs of non-existent people (and cats). Generated texts are read out with standard computer voices. It is possible that the listener of this opera is the same non-existent, virtually generated character.

Some sounds are taken from online libraries, some are recorded by musicians – Vladimir Gorlinsky (guitar samples), Anton Svetlichny (synthesizer) and Alexei Kruglov (saxophone). In the programme, created in collaboration with Oleg Makarov, all this material undergoes fragmentation and deformation, also following the random principle. Nevertheless, Kourliandski sets a certain direction for this flow of chance, so he gets exactly the result that he needs in this or that act.

For five acts of opera, Kourliandski made the video himself. The second act presents the work of musician and multimedia artist Alexander Serechenko, also based on the principle of chance. The sixth act, the work of video artist Marina Chernikova, is inspired by the ideas of psychogeography, which has its own special relationship to chance.

The listener/viewer can even find some plot in the opera. Four non-existent characters (“the authors” of Nigerian messages) live in a non-existent Argleton (a real non-existent city). One day they receive a threatening letter from Anonymous Hacker. One of the characters knows the Hacker and tells his story. The characters hold an online conference where they decide how to deal with the Hacker. Once the problem is over, they gather at a local bar and recite poems. In the finale of the opera, it turns out that there is a love affair between the female characters.

Act I

Act II

Act III

Act IV & V

Act VI

Act VII