The One Art project sees a new collaboration between two successful arts practitioners. International opera singer, Laure Meloy and international cabaret performer Brigitte Rennie of The Mosaic Cat. This world premiere production is unique in many ways. Firstly, it is an “opera cabaret”; combining script, recitation, and song. Secondly, One Art is performed ‘a cappella’ without a set or back drop and with minimal props. Thirdly, the performance includes 3 of Elizabeth Bishops poems set to music by composer Paula Kimper.
What is important about Elizabeth Bishop?
We live in a time when instant success is glorified, and fame is idealised above, or even in the absence of, having (and working on) any actual skill or talent. Elizabeth Bishop’s life and work show us that there is, indeed, much more to it. Although she did achieve recognition in her lifetime (she won a Pulitzer and was poet laureate of the United States) her poetry has become more popular and admired in the years since her death, at least in the US and Canada. We also live in the age of the ‘sob story’ and the elevation of victimhood; Bishop’s biography is full of tragedy but she never seems to wallow in self-pity, either in her poetry or her correspondence. She carried on writing and working through her troubled and imperfect existence, extracting beauty and art from the ruins of her personal life. And she did so without vindictiveness or malice: much of her work is autobiographical, but never as ‘revenge’ poetry or as a way of vilifying an ex-lover, literary rival, or neglectful parent. She is important as a great poet, who should be more widely known in the UK, but also as an example of how to be an artist.
Canterbury Festival Umbrella Premiere, Conquest House Gallery 2016
The Metropolitan Opera, New York. Autumn 2017 (with permission of the MET)