Eir Inderhaug

Det kunstneriske potensialet i musikkteater

Norwegian Academy of Music

Being an opera singer on a big stage is far from artistic freedom. Opera is a large format, a kind of gesamtkunswerk where my function as a singer becomes a small piece in the context.


Imagine that you are standing on stage with an opera choir at your back and technicians on the side stage who are ready to lift stage walls of 6 tons when you hit high c. The conductor is 15 meters from you and the orchestra sits below the stage. You don't see them. All communication with the orchestra goes through the conductor. You have to turn your head outwards towards the audience in order for your voice to carry through the orchestral sound, even if you are singing to the person standing next to you. You can't just start singing. The conductor must be ready to take the whole orchestra and perhaps an opera chorus with him. We look each other in the eyes and he lifts the stick, I draw in my breath, feel the support muscles take hold and off we go with the composed structure we all have to deal with.


The song stands in the way of the expression. The song gives me little freedom to act spontaneously with real presence in the moment. The song binds the breath and the body technically, which distances me from the emotions. Singing well technically with the right timbre and support can overshadow communication skills.


When I work with actors I feel like it's more like a ping pong game. More unpredictable. You never quite know where the ball will bounce until the shot is made by your opponent. Then you react after the hit as you feel or as it comes naturally to keep the game going. For me, theater is more intense listening and reaction to listening. I don't have to deal with the conductor and own my own time. It is listening to my opponent that makes me say what I have to say in the intention I have to drive the piece forward. In Intention, I try to bring out inner motivations, preferably from my own life experiences, in order to produce a credible register of emotions for the characters on stage.

For me, opera and theatre are two different universes. How can I reconcile them? Can I create my own performance where theater and opera are equated? I have therefore tried to explore borderlands between music and theatre. How does the theater affect the music and how much does the music affect the theatre?

When is it theater and when is it music?


Eir Inderhaug is an opera singer who has made a career on major opera stages. At the same time, she has worked with actors and participated in spoken word theatre. In this PhD project, Eir will create a performance where theater and music are equal. Kristiansand Symphony Orchestra has recorded the music. She also wants to connect artificial intelligence, which she has trained to sing opera.



Artistic Research Spring Forum 2024

1st presentation

Language: Norwegian