Background to the opera's story.
In the autumn of 2011 my friend Christina Nilsson related the story of a friend of hers, a woman who the previous year had met a man on an Internet dating site. The name of this dating site was Seventh Heaven. As Christina is aware of my composing activities she suggested that it might be an interesting idea to capture her friend’s online experiences, her contact with this man, in the form of an opera. She also suggested that the relationship between them had been somewhat complicated.
Feeling that this was very much a topical subject and well worth dramatizing in words and music, I asked Christina to contact her friend and ask for her blessing to portray her love affair with this man on the Seventh Heaven website in an opera. After due consideration she gave her consent.
A short while later I was also given access to some of her correspondence with this man, a source of material that was to provide the foundation of a libretto. However, I felt that direct contact with the woman would prove valuable in, if at all possible, burrowing even deeper into what I suspected was a passionate love story. When I eventually made contact with her directly I was able to earn her confidence and gain access to a rich and unique seam of text material she had saved on her computer.
Of course I was also keen to show the man’s perspective and so after some time I also initiated direct contact with him. This proved to be an invaluable and necessary step in my desire to represent the dreams and emotions of both parties.
Through their openness I have been given the opportunity to convey in words and music a complex relationship shaped by one of the early 21st Century’s many contact forums. I have attempted to not only express their online love affair, their hopes, doubts and eventual real-life meeting but also their respective marital break-ups. All of this in one contemporary opera under the title In Virftual Heaven – an abstract and diffuse heaven without the definite article.
The man in the opera is named Ivan, the woman answers to the name Amora.
[Lennart Westman, composer of music and libretto]