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September 10, 2021

Unmasking the Arts Episode 5: Yuval Sharon, Artistic Director of Michigan Opera Theatre


Our partners at Princeton University Concerts have created a new six-part series, Unmasking the Arts, with host Helga Davis and special guests in conversation about the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the middle of lockdown, Yuval Sharon, MacArthur Genius Grant recipient and newly appointed Artistic Director of Michigan Opera Theatre, staged a drive-through experience of Wagner’s Götterdämmerung in a Detroit parking garage for his production Twighlight: Gods.

As the founder and Co-Artistic Director of The Industry, an LA-based experimental opera company that develops immersive musical experiences, Twilight: Gods was nothing out-of-the-ordinary for Sharon. He had already directed operas staged in moving vehicles, at a railway station, and at other untraditional venues. Yet during the pandemic, this creative approach to presenting music became all the more crucial. Sharon discusses this and more with Unmasking the Arts host Helga Davis.

“What we really need to cultivate in our lives more than anything is a sense of solidarity with each other…and I really do think that’s where the arts are going to be crucial when we come back: trying to rebuild that sense of solidarity.” – Yuval Sharon

Shared with kind permission of Princeton University Concerts.

Princeton University Concerts

On Saturday, September 25, Michigan Opera Theatre will present BLISS, Sharon’s recreation of Ragnar Kjartansson’s performance piece. The performance replays three sublime minutes of The Marriage of Figaro with the same cast and the same orchestra, without pause, for 12 hours. Get tickets and learn more about the performance.

Yuval Sharon – Unmasking the Arts: Playlist

For Princeton University Concerts’ Collective Listening Project, Yuval Sharon shared some of the tracks that resonated with him in the last year – ”as I weighed how my work and how art, in general, is required to drastically shift to accommodate new demands for social change, the wisdom of this music reminds me where a polemicist approach fails and true art begins…” Read more about Sharon’s selections.

About the Artists

Yuval SharonYuval Sharon

Yuval Sharon has amassed an unconventional body of work that expands the operatic form. He is founder and Artistic Director of The Industry in Los Angeles and the newly appointed Gary L. Wasserman Artistic Director of Detroit’s Michigan Opera Theatre.

With The Industry, Sharon has directed and produced new operas in moving vehicles, operating train stations, Hollywood sound stages, and various “non-spaces” such as warehouses, parking lots, and escalator corridors. From 2016-2019, Sharon was the first Artist-Collaborator at the Los Angeles Philharmonic, creating nine projects that included newly commissioned works, site-specific installations, and performances outside the hall. His residency culminated in a major revival of Meredith Monk’s opera ATLAS, making him the first director Monk entrusted with a new production of her work.

In 2017, Sharon was honored with a MacArthur Fellowship and a Foundation for Contemporary Art grant for theater.

Helga DavisHelga Davis

Helga Davis first appeared on UMS stages in our 2012 presentation of Philip Glass’s opera, Einstein on the Beach. We look forward to welcoming her back in the 2021/22 season as a featured performer in Octavia E. Butler’s Parable of the Sower.

Davis is a vocalist and performance artist with feet planted on the most prestigious international stages and with firm roots in the realities and concerns of her local community whose work draws out insights that illuminate how artistic leaps for an individual can offer connection among audiences.

Listen to the new season of her podcast series, Helga: The Armory Conversations, co-produced by WNYC Studios and Park Avenue Armory.