“TakTakShoo” is a new musical short film born from the fallout of the past 18 months of pandemic shutdown. But that shutdown gave Rene Orth, a graduate of Opera Philadelphia's Composer in Residence program and composer of the piece, more time to explore the opportunities for electronics in opera, and think about emerging from the pandemic into a more optimistic time.

“Music is fun and there's a part of life that's super joyful,” Orth said, “and I want us to be able to remember that and create from that.”

And so, inspired by the poems of St. Augustine, Orth reached out to Toronto-based playwright and librettist Kanika Ambrose, a former collaborator at Tapestry Opera, about the libretto. Together they envisioned resurrecting, energizing force inviting people to come into the world anew, as embodied through mezzo-soprano Kristen Choi and a quartet of dancers. Jeffrey Page did the choreography.

The result is “TakTakShoo,” filmed in October at Christ Church Neighborhood House in Philadelphia.The 10-minute film will be available for $10 beginning Nov. 19 on the Opera Philadelphia Channel.

“In creating the piece I thought about dance and resurrection and rebirth and joy, and a lot of the anxiety we have around coming back to life as we know it,” said Ambrose.

TakTakShoo is the sound that a broom makes when you are sweeping. The film opens on the sound of a sweeping broom, symbolizing the cleansing and emerging back into a post-Covid world.

And according to Ambrose, the production fuses opera and K-pop, marimba and electronics, including Ableton Live and a MIMU glove, which converts gestures to sound and feeds into the choreographed element of the work.

“As a very young child I thought about becoming a school teacher,” Ambrose recalls. “But by the time I entered high school I made the switch to wanting to be an actor and a writer. I acted for a few years, but I believe my voice sounds better as a writer.”

She adds that the ideas for her writings come from many sources. “They come from my many experiences or the things my family has gone through. Or they might come from African mythology or a mythical world I have created. And my imagination just takes off from there.”

Today as a playwright and librettist of high regard both here and in Canada, Ambrose is of Black-Caribbean descent, whose work honors and represents the unique experience of Black people.

Ambrose, a graduate of Ryerson Theatre School, and Orth met in a Tapestry Lab in 2018 and have remained friends ever since. Coincidentally, both are new mothers and had to learn to define and redefine their work schedules accordingly.

“It wasn't always easy, but we still got a wonderful piece out of it,” Orth says.

“Yes, we still got a piece and it's full of joy,” Ambrose adds, “which is kind of like parenting, too.”

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