Who’s Afraid of Pop Culture

Supported by Fonds Darstellende Künste with funds from the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media.

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Released November 2021on YouTube

Pop meets opera: The experimental music theater Opera Lab Berlin is turning five of the greatest pop hits of all time into a visionary new opera project: “Who’s Afraid of Pop Culture?” Each video features a hit pop song as a basis not just for a cover, but for a new, fully realized work with original music informed by and reacting to the original material. The cinematic treatments for Who’s Afraid of Pop Culture? are as important as the music itself. Five directors were chosen to shoot in strategic, decidedly “non-operatic” locations around Berlin. The resulting films evoke drama and intrigue with lysergic visual treatments. “Survivor” by Destiny’s Child becomes a moving love story under the big top of Circus Mond, while Rihanna’s “Work” and “Birthday Cake” features pseudo-woke mustached Berlin hipsters fulfilling their real destinies as gentrifiers. Later, two warring gangs find love on a skatepark’s quarter pipes and decks in “Bad Romance.” The anthemic "Seven Nation Army" soundtracks a mythical matriarchal cult born in a church. And once the lights go out in a Berlin supermarket a ghostly treatment of "Smells like Teen Spirit" begins. Opera Lab Berlin is an independent, free ensemble dedicated to creating interdisciplinary music theater. A laboratory of voice and instrumental playing that aims to be useful and entertaining, without being limited in terms of artistic processes, production and presentation methods.