Mytomato

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Mytomato is a funny weird and multidisciplinary piece about tomatoes as emancipation.

Composer, librettist and director Miika Hyytiäinen writes:

It all started in Spring 2019 when Olga Heikkilä contacted me for a new vocal piece. She knew already that I always work with the voice very specifically and even do a doctoral project about the communication between singers and composers. She commissioned a piece tailor-made for her voice, since in the earlier doctoral concerts she had already experimented with the material composed specifically for other singers (Sprechgesang style and Pierrot Lunaire, Cathy Berberian, Barbara Hannigan). This task was inspiring since I already knew how technically and artistically skilful and free performer Heikkilä is. What then would be the material that allows the piece to speak further, be something bigger than one composer and one voice? It turned out that the solution was tomatoes…

Tomatoes started to pop up from every corner and always seemed to be a metaphor for emancipation, for making your own decisions and drawing the lines of your identity. In “Let’s Call The Whole Thing” the singers won’t give up their personal ways of communication. They are “tomayto” and “tomahto” people. In the Pomodoro method, people decided to take time for themselves by using a tomato-shaped timer. In Cantatrix sopranica L., writer Georges Perec creates a parody of academic writing and singers with text that analyses how the voice of the soprano changes when the laboratory personnel throws tomatoes at her. I decided to use Perec’s roles a bit differently: composers may throw scores like tomatoes and listen to what they get, but I see my role as a composer to take the hits and listen to them, finding some new ideas. The roles needed to change: in the 70’s and 80’s the tomatoes got the mind of their own in the film series “Attack of the Killer Tomatoes”. In the 90’s emancipation was more poetic in the “Fried Green Tomatoes”. Covid-19 changed our relationship with tomatoes again: If you can’t control the world, at least you can grow an amazing tomato! 

Especially Olga Heikkilä’s skill to change between private Lied, lecturing researcher and larger-than-life opera style has been one of the inspiring factors. I have used my Voice Map method to understand her voice in detail, but I also wanted to get even more intimate: I asked her to make private recordings that demonstrate her voice just as she woke up. These recordings were made in d’Art Lyrique d’Aix-en-Provence where we both were in 2019.

The score of the piece may be dowloaded here.

For the background video and further performance material, please contact the composer.

 

PREMIERE:

31.5.2023 in Musiikkitalo, Helsinki

More information.

More information about Olga Heikkilä

(Heikkilä’s photo by Tom McKenz)

Documentation of the premiere 31.5.2023

Some images from the premiere

Performers Olga Heikkilä and Kirill Kozlovski.

(c) Olga Heikkilä 

Other projects:

Kompositio

A dual composition for Tulkinnanvaraista 20.1.2024