Opera singers wow Canada with a ‘human piano’ performance

Is your band struggling with its sound? Maybe one of these would help.


Miles Klee


Posted on Sep 19, 2013   Updated on Jun 1, 2021, 6:05 am CDT

Forget about Tom Hanks’s overplayed giant piano scene from Big—Canada is where real novelty instrumentation is thriving today. Case in point: a video of “Le piano vivant,” or “Living Piano,” an interactive public installation engineered by TFO (the French-language public cultural and educational television network of Ontario) and marketing agency Lowe Roche.

Also called “The Living Opera Organ,” the giant instrument is a foot-operated keyboard with twelve keys. But stepping on these keys doesn’t produce the usual tones—instead, a different opera singer is assigned to each pitch, belting it out when the tune calls upon them.

Delighted observers and even some dogs all seem to have a blast on this nifty, crowd-pleasing device, and the singers are admirably stoic as cogs in a larger, if human, machine. The conductor also plays a recognizable aria from the opera Carmen and instructs other participants in creating vocal harmonies.

TFO, which is “the only public television station in Ontario that features opera as a part of their weekly programming” brought the project about in collaboration with the Festival d’Opéra de Québec in order to introduce the not-exceedingly-popular art form to people who might otherwise not experience it. But those kids are bound to be disappointed when they find out that, in the actual show, they’re not a part of the orchestra, and stomping is generally discouraged.

Photo by Marcio Mesquita/Flickr

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*First Published: Sep 19, 2013, 4:17 pm CDT