High Notes

Diller Scofidio + Renfro’s mile-long opera is coming to the High Line this fall

Art East Landscape Architecture News
A photo of the High Line. (Iwan Baan)

One thousand opera singers will grace Manhattan‘s High Line from October 3 through 7, staging a massive public performance for five consecutive nights. The Mile-Long Opera: a biography of 7 o’clock, produced by Diller Scofidio + Renfro (DS+R), the High Line, and production company The OFFICE performing arts + film, will present a thousand sung stories about what 7:00 PM means to New York residents.

The Mile-Long Opera has a star-studded production team: The show is a joint venture between DS+R and Pulitzer Prize-winning composer David Lang,  who will be setting the stories to music. Poets Anne Carson and Claudia Rankine will be writing the stories, based on interviews, about the liminal period between day and night. DS+R partner Elizabeth Diller will be staging the show, with the help of co-director Lynsey Peisinger, along the entire length of the High Line.

Nonprofit cultural partners from each borough will be supplying the show’s singers, who will be directed by Donald Nally, and each partner will recruit volunteers, hold workshops, and throw cultural events in the lead-up to the October performance.

Diller’s involvement has been known for some time now, and the idea supposedly took inspiration from the intersection and confrontation between public space and performance art.

“After working on the design of the High Line for over a decade and witnessing the rapid transformation of the surrounding area, I thought a lot about the life cycle of the city—its decay and rebirth—full of opportunities and contradictions,” said Diller in a statement. “This vantage presented an opportunity for creative reflection about the speed of change of the contemporary city and the stories of its inhabitants.

“The park will be a 30-block-long urban stage for an immersive performance in which the audience will be mobile, the performers will be distributed, and the city will be both protagonist and backdrop for a collective experience celebrating our diversity.”

The Mile-Long Opera will be free, in keeping with the mission to open up opera to the public. Visitors can freely wander the length of the High Line while intermingling between the groups of singers, and each artist will belt out their own solo story. Guests can choose to linger and listen through to individual stories or explore as many experiences as they want.

The High Line will close early to the general public on the nights of the show, and only those who have booked an advance reservation online (here) will be able to attend. With anticipation building for the 2019 opening of The Shed on the park’s northern end, it looks like DS+R will keep the cultural momentum going through the fall.

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