A new opera at the Royal Opera House in London promises to immerse the audience in a "hyper-reality" made possible by virtual reality.
The work is called "Current, Rising"and is announced as the first in the world in virtual reality. It goes on stage at the Linbury Theater starting May 20, and runs until June 9 unless further reruns.
Opera VR: you will hardly fall asleep
Narcoleptic friends or pitiful spectators usually fall asleep during the third act, sometimes the second, of any theatrical performance: do not worry! The VR work has a decidedly affordable cut. It lasts 15 minutes with shows scheduled throughout the day for up to four people at a time. Safety first! Participants choose their time slot when buying tickets, which cost around 18 to 25 euros.
Just before the show starts, viewers don headsets and a VR headset connected to a computer that they'll carry with them in a backpack. Once the show has started and entered the VR world, they will be able to see the avatars of the other three people in their group.
Opera VR: What should we expect?
Le Traditional plays tend to feature characters who guide viewers on a narrative journey, but that doesn't seem to be the case with the VR opera. In this piece, however, the participants "will cross the landscapes of the night together, from dusk to dawn, exploring concepts of isolation, connection and collective reimagination", according to a Press release presenting the event.
It seems like a rather vague and enigmatic synopsis for an opera. Especially if the format is already experimental. Wanting to find a more concrete reference, I read that "Current, Rising" is inspired by the liberation of the character of Ariel in Shakespeare's famous "Tempest". As it all comes back, the great Masters are always there.
A new page of this theatrical genre?
Probably "Current, Rising" will not change the world of opera as we know it. It is a genre that has existed more or less unchanged for centuries, and many traditionalists will no doubt prefer the standard format to the virtual reality .
Certainly, however, it could mark the beginning of a new "rib" in the evolution of the Opera. Director Netia Jones is already writing the sequel (okay, if it lasts 15 minutes it might not take years) and he's thrilled.
"This is not the future of the opera," he says, "but it could be one of its futures."