“Incredibly cathartic, uplifting…unlike anything I have ever experienced in my life before.”
Opera Helps harnesses the power of opera to help participants view their troubles in a new light.
People apply with a problem and a professional opera singer meets them and listens to the problem. Then the singer selects an aria relating to their troubles and sings it to the participant as they relax at home. Unlike therapy, or a trip to the doctor, Opera Helps doesn’t aim to cure the problem – but past participants have found the experience deeply affecting.
Taking part in Opera Helps is an intimate and personal experience. People who have a problem – it can be anything they find worrying – apply to book a session and an opera singer visits them via video call. The singer listens attentively to the participant’s description of their troubles, and then selects a suitable aria to sing. The power of the voice in the domestic space creates an intense and moving experience; the participant hears music in an unfamiliar way, encouraging them to listen attentively, while focusing and reflecting on their individual problem.
Joshua Sofaer is an artist who works mainly with performance and installation. He often sets up situations in which the response to an invitation for public participation is then incorporated as an aesthetic function of the piece. Equally as comfortable working in a gallery, opera house, museum, public space, or private homes, what draws Sofaer’s diverse practices together is a concern with how audiences engage with the world. People’s experience is key, as are the material cultures they choose to surround themselves with.
Wunderbar is a creator, collaborator and producer of projects made by and with artists and audiences. For twelve years we’ve been “seriously curious and playfully disruptive,” turning the everyday upside down, inspiring, challenging and nurturing new ways to work, think and play.
Joshua Sofaer – Lead Artist and Relational Dynamics Coach/Trainer/Supervisor
Ilana Mitchell – Artistic Director, Wunderbar
Sallyanne Flemons – Communications Director, Wunderbar
Hannah Kirkham – Producer and Bookings
Sally Pilkington – Web and Illustration Design
Steve Wald – Technician
Animation Team: Sally Pilkington, Paul Smith, NOVAK
Singers: Carole King, Caroline Kennedy, David Jones, Eleanor Janes, Ian Beadle and Mae Heydorn.
Opera Helps was originally commissioned by Folkoperan, Sweden and is produced by Wunderbar. In 2020 it was adapted as an online project with funding from Arts Council England.