Things We Throw Away: Two Angels Play I Spy (street art opera)

Brian Irvine (Composer)

Research output: Non-textual formComposition


Multi-component and Dissemination
This output combines seven operas informed and inspired by street art, in two main groups. The first five, for pre-recorded orchestra and live singers, were commissioned by Dublic City Council and premiered 4/5th July, 2014 in locations across Dublin. These works informed the creation of two projected screen operas: He Did What? (Brooklyn Academy of Music, 27th October to 2nd November, 2018) and Two Angels Play I Spy (Waterford Walls Festival, 22nd to 24th August, 2019). All use street art as a starting point for exploring urban space and experience.

Aims and Context

Things We Throw Away aims to illuminate and interrogate human vulnerability, informed by the concept of street art as a starting point for an exploration of the situation of contemporary opera within urban spaces. Performed or projected in public spaces, the work reinvents urban spaces as artistic arenas, eroding distinctions between place and non-place.

Methodology and Findings

The audiovisual language combines elements of contemporary culture and media, reflecting the tension between the shared and disparate identities of an accidental audience (Banana Woman), the salience and pathos of discarded objects (Ironing Board Blues), and the superimposition of large-scale orchestral scores and vocal performance upon urban spaces. A triadic relationship, combining this musical language, the social/political content, and place, forms the model for interrogation. This allows new synergies to emerge between the function of a place and the works’ content: e.g. He Did What? (2018) addresses age and poverty and has been projected/performed on the walls of social security buildings, banks and hospitals. With over 525 performances in cities throughout Europe, and in New York, the format has subsequently provided a broadly applicable solution to the need for artistic experience which is participatory in the broader sense of reimagining urban space and its social function.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 22 Aug 2019


Dive into the research topics of 'Things We Throw Away: Two Angels Play I Spy (street art opera)'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this