Todd Trebour: Foxy Experimental Opera Fanatic

July 6th, 2011  |  by Published in featured, featured artists

I had the pleasure of interviewing fellow C3 Core Member Todd Trebour about a whole lotta somethin’. Todd has been quite busy of late. The premiere of Come and Sleep: An Operatic Fantasy for Voice, Cello, and Silence just took place at the A.P.E. Gallery in May. He’s about to embark on a month-long tour of Come and Sleep with one stop being the 30th annual Edmonton Fringe Festival (August 11-21) as well as at Minneapolis’ Bryant-Lake Bowl Theater (August 26 and 28).

Todd is also fiscally sponsored by Fractured Atlas so you should totally contribute to his summer fundraiser and get a tax write-off in the process! All the dirt on Todd and his experimental opera company can be found at Alchemical Opera Project.

What are you trying to communicate or explore in your work?

I have always been drawn to the fantastic and epic, which is why I was drawn to opera. My work currently focuses on using classical vocal and operatic music as source material, rearranged and transformed, in the creation of movement-based theater works. Currently, I am working with songs from Schubert’s dark and mysterious 1827 20-song cycle Winterreise (Winter’s Journey)-I improvise with the melodies, break the songs apart, and rewrite sections, to give them different/additional meanings. Using this music in dialogue with contemporary poetry, movement, and design, I create specific worlds to tell specific stories.

In my work, I am interested in exploring stillness in juxtaposition with motion, as well as the grey area that exists in between those extremes. This exploration is part of my desire to find an imaginative presence in daily action. I am curious about balance and what that means. I am also interested in the consequences of transformation, migration, space, and landscape on identity, and what that says about what is fixed in an individual, and what is malleable.

Where were you when you created or made one of your favorite works?

Here. I initially made a draft presentation of the piece I am touring, Come and Sleep, while apprenticed at Double Edge Theatre. But the piece in all its performance iterations tells the story of my attempt to navigate my life in the Pioneer Valley and the questions about yourself and your relationship to your world that come to the surface when you stop and give yourself the space to ponder them.

Seasonality, its accompanying rhythm, and its mercurial nature, were an inspiration and fascination for me (having grown up primarily in the desert), and informed Come and Sleep’s world. The piece has been performed four times, intentionally in four different seasons and in four different spaces, two outdoor and two indoor. Each time and environment had an unique contribution to the imagining of the world and the character who lives in it.

How do you see your art in relation to cultivating community and how does community affect the work you make?

In my opinion, it is the work of an artist to cultivate daily their unique way of seeing, and then translate that into their chosen medium as a means of sharing their seeing. I am the first to admit my art is esoteric, but my work is my work; it is how I see the world, as well as my attempt (to paraphrase Edvard Munch) to explain the meaning of life to myself. It is my task to share my personal explanation with the community, initiate a dialogue, and (hopefully) empower them to share also.

This of course relates to why I work with c3-by developing creative programming, we stimulate the imagination of our community. When a communities’ imagination is stimulated they are not only more fun, but are empowered to see their world a different way, create their own art and, more generally, new solutions to old problems-they are empowered to enact change.

What is your spirit animal?

Red Fox.

What spaces in Noho are you most curiosu to see the inside of or to make work in?

I am endlessly fascinated by old industrial/mill buildings, particularly empty and abandoned ones. I have never been inside the Felt Building, but would like to. I live in Easthampton and am deeply curious about the empty mill building across from Paragon along the bike path.

What are some strategies you use to sustain your creative practive while liviing in Noho?

I have a fair amount of psycho-physical practices. I run (A LOT), meditate, and practice tai chi, singing, and have recently started taking Shintaido. I practice authentic movement and movement-based improvisation on a regular basis, both alone and with my good friend and collaborator Javiera Benavente. All these things are ways for me to maintain and expand my way of seeing. When I am stuck, I try going on a walk in a new place, looking at different visual art books, having a dance party in my kitchen, going out to karaoke (dead serious), or connecting with my friends and other artists in area (C3 has been a great means of doing just that!).

What 5 items do you always carry with you?

Inside my man-bag:

-a chocolate chip Cliff bar

-my journal

-an apple

-my janitorial-looking keychain-even when I don’t need them, I am just so used to their weight.

-the Chilean pencil pouch Javiera gave me.

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