Eight Songs From Isolation

Academy of St Martin in the Fields & Oliver Zeffman

Eight Songs From Isolation

For this extraordinary opera shot entirely on iPhone, eight leading composers including Thomas Adès, Freya Waley-Cohen, Huw Watkins, and Julian Anderson chart the ways lockdown has eroded our way of life. By setting poetry, letters, and speech, each orchestral song brings a new perspective on physical isolation. And each is performed in sequence by a different singer, alone in a variety of locations—including soprano Sophie Bevan with her baby son in the sanctity of her bedroom and tenor Toby Spence confronting the solitary bleakness of a London flat. The eight remarkable films directed by UK filmmaker Billy Boyd Cape combine for a compelling musical tapestry of physical separation. Highlights include Helen Grime’s setting of Carol Ann Duffy’s poem “Prayer,” poignantly performed within an empty church by mezzo Sarah Connolly, its lyrical melody hovering over a nervous, skittish accompaniment. And baritone Andrei Kymach brings Ilya Demutsky’s disturbing portrait of mental disorder to vivid life inside a filthy, fly-infested kitchen. Oliver Zeffman, who commissioned each song, conducts members of the Academy of St Martin in the Fields, with each singer recorded separately in isolation.