Opera Sounds Good, But How Does It Smell?

New work opening at Guggenheim blasts 23 scents at audience
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted May 20, 2009 8:57 AM CDT
Opera Sounds Good, But How Does It Smell?
A new opera, Green Aria, combines scent with music.   (©House Of Sims)

A new opera premiering at the Guggenheim Museum in New York later this month will be a feast for the ears, the eyes—and the nose. Green Aria, a 30-minute "scent opera" years in the making, pairs music with 23 distinct odors blasted at the audience via individual microphone-like emitters. "Perfumery should be the same kind of discipline as music or visual art," the opera's fragrance master tells the Wall Street Journal.

Christophe Laudamiel, who has created perfumes for the likes of Clinique and Ralph Lauren, refers to his scents as "characters" in the opera, an epic story about nature and the forces of industry. He created the smells—some pleasant, others malodorous—in a laboratory filled with thousands of bottles, presided over by technicians in white lab coats. Even the opera's Icelandic composer acknowledges it's an unorthodox project; when Laudamiel asked him to write the music, he says, "I thought it was insane."
(More perfume stories.)

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