On 9 June 2009 the New York photographer Patty Heffley discovered her West 20th St apartment had just become a far less private place. The once-derelict elevated train line outside her window was now the High Line, the city’s popular, new public park.
If she were any other person in any other city, Patty might have written to the local authorities or hoisted a banner outside her window, but instead the veteran of New York's long lost and lamented punk scene, chose to stage impromptu performances on her fire escape.
High Line architect Liz Diller heard about Heffley’s Renegade Cabaret, and has now set about creating a High Line opera, partly in response to Patty’s performances.
As Diller told a bunch of New York real estate professionals recently, the work will be entitled Mile Long Opera, and will be a collaboration between Diller, composer David Lang and sound designer Brude Odland. It's scheduled to debut in 2019.
An operatic production might sound like an unlikely project for an architect, yet Diller, whose practice Diller Scofidio + Renfro oversaw the design and construction of the park alongside landscape architect James Corner Field Operations, has worked in similar fields before.
As she told us back in 2015, her career began with projects that were more art installation than proper buildings. “The early work had to do with found sites, sometimes guerilla projects, temporary stolen sites in the city,” she said, “and we still continue our independent art and performance projects today."
In 2013, she contributed to the futuristic look and feel of Spike Jonze’s film Her. Diller’s working relationship with composer Lang, meanwhile, dates back to 2014, when the pair worked on Musings on a Glass Box, an installation inside Jean Nouvel’s Fondation Cartier pour l’Art Contemporain in Paris. Let’s hope this forthcoming show is welcomed by the opera lovers and the High Line’s neighbours alike.