Ray Chenez

Countertenor

"Ray Chenez's countertenor is bold and assertive, but also warm-toned and luxurious. He has a naturally electric presence, and his diction is precise no matter how high he sings." - Opera News

 

Entering “The Circle” - Humanity’s privacy crisis

For me, diving in and preparing a new role is always a thrilling process - to dream, to fantasize, to imagine my character, and wonder what the stage director is thinking. Preparing a world premiere (or modern day premiere) brings about even more questions.

I’m now delving into The Circle, a new opera by Ludger Vollmer, which I will premiere at the Deutsches Nationaltheater Weimar on May 4th. The opera is based on the novel by Dave Eggers, which tells the story of a hypothetical future society driven by a tech company, where human privacy continues to disappear. While reading the novel, my stomach was in knots. Although the author presents an extreme scenario, it’s quite easy to see that our society is moving closer and closer to a new reality. Every day, new technology brings undeniable conveniences to our lives, but at the cost of our privacy.

The recent Facebook privacy scare relating to the 2016 U.S. elections alerted us that something has gone wrong. We are voluntarily and involuntarily exposing our identity on a level humanity never has before. With the massive amount of technologies and services we use on a daily basis, who could possibly keep up with the privacy statements and ramifications. And even if we did, would we really have a choice?

The vast majority of tech companies are offering us incredible services at no direct cost to us. However, as we all know deep inside - if we’re not paying for the product, then we are the product. As companies like Google become larger and offer more products and services, we start offering them everything about ourselves - where we’ve been at every moment of every day, who we’re with, what we buy, where we’re going next. Sometimes we know when we share this information, other times we don’t think about it (when we use GPS for instance).

The Circle examines the scenario where well-meaning people create a tech company so good and so powerful, who are able to collect all the information of the world from a willing public. Of course there are serious benefits to such information being collected - Crimes can be stopped, people’s lives can be saved. But how would it feel to be under constant surveillance? Imagine if anyone could immediately know everything about you with a quick click of a mouse button - where you were, what you were doing, your entire history.

These are the very real issues our society is faced with as technology rapidly accelerates at a pace we can’t possibly keep up with. How do we address privacy concerns? Do we even think about it? If we go too far, is there any way to turn back the clock? When everyone else is going along with something without question, it’s quite easy to follow.

I feel honored and impassioned to be a part of the world premiere of this incredibly important new opera, in which I will play the roll of Kalden/Ty, the inventor of The Circle, who realizes that things have gone too far and attempts to stop the company’s rapid expansion and powerful control. In the meantime, I can’t stop thinking and talking about human privacy rights. What do you think?