The Mile Long Opera
Diller Scofidio + Renfro and David Lang produced an ambitious outdoor performance project on the Highline this past week. I do hope that they extend the show or at least bring it back for a longer period of time.
The tickets were free. You just had to be paying attention to get them. When the Highline opened the tickets to the public, 4000 were scooped up in 45 minutes. That speaks volumes to me. People want to be part of something now more than ever. They want to engage in community events that have a bend towards culture. To get off their phones and experience something.
The event began at the Southern tip of the Highline on Gansevoort and continued all the way to the end at 34th Street. Each section had different words to what they were singing or saying. Each section had different ways they lit up their faces or where they stood. At one point all the singers were singing from below the Highline, others were lit up by the brims of their hats, other stood on top of blocks, others just had tiny flashlights. There were 20 sections in all. The words of each saying or song were bits and conversations related to people walking around the city. Conversations about drinking red wine, a beautiful table in their home, garbage on the streets, coffee cuts, how money changes everything but changes nothing. It was New York conversations that we have all overheard over the years at their finest.
There were 1000 professional singers that took place in this event. Abron Arts Center Choice, The Astoria Choir, Harlem Japanese Gospel Choir, Empire City Men’s Chorus and so many more. There were random people placed inside buildings along the Highline, illuminated by the room, cleaning down the windows while singing. It was like an Alex Prager movie.
Looking back on the evening, walking down the Highline with few people there (they stage how many people come on at a time), listening to the voices, and seeing the landscape at the same time, truly made for quite a memorable evening. This is exactly how we should be using and embracing the beauty of public spaces.