31st August 2022: re:Naissance Opera, founded in 2017 by Debi Wong, produces modern-day operatic performances that represent and connect diverse communities, people, storytelling media and unique voices. Its latest show Eurydice, streamed 26th June, is the second of the Live From The Underworld series featuring mythological avatars brought to life by Movella’s real time Xsens motion capture technology & live opera singers. The performance features the work of award-winning script writer and voice actor Omari Newton, who played the voice of Corvus on Netflix’s The Dragon Prince animated series and whose IMDb includes a roster of VR games.
“What would opera look and feel like if it were invented today?” is a question re:Naissance Opera’s founder asks anyone who wants to be a part of this real time digital renaissance. “It’s about building the platform first; performance second. At re:Naissance we’re empowering artists to co-create with us, by providing them platforms and tools to create genre defying works, which is our whole ethos. And that extends to the audience too. We want them to come in and also be co-creators with us.”
re:Naissance Opera aspires to be more than a novel application of modern technology. Its founder describes it as “a mission to futureproof the art form itself by harnessing technologies that increase exposure of Opera to people beyond the boundaries of class, race and sex”. Whilst opera is typically seen as a traditionalist art form, its roots are in innovation and – importantly – creative collaboration.
“The growth of opera has never been about one person coming up with an idea. It was about many different people from many different sectors – from philosophers to singer songwriters to scientists to musicians and composers and performers – all throwing their ideas and riffing off each other. The future of opera will largely depend on accessibility – not just in terms of hardware – but in terms of being able to access your ability as an artist and create your own story, your own inspiration.” – Debi. When the artist is given what they need to thrive, to create, it’s the art that wins.
Debi founded re:Naissance on the belief that by harnessing the collaborative and interdisciplinary nature of opera; by empowering storytellers and producing stories that have been excluded from the operatic space, “we can change the world one opera at a time.” It’s this radical approach and refusal to acknowledge archaic paradigms in the art that led to Debi exploring a new way to increase exposure to opera beyond the boundaries of social background.
“It might be surprising, but I’m also a big gamer – so I was inspired to think: what are these intersections between this world that I engage with on stage, which has these huge stories and big ideas and amazing characters that we don’t run into in everyday life, and these video game worlds? In opera, I feel like I’m doing the exact same thing, embodying these larger-than-life characters or playing through these worlds and stories, and I started thinking about how these two worlds could cross over.” – Debi
This, essentially, was the inception of VR/AR Opera. Debi began connecting with different artists in virtual reality, in augmented reality, in motion capture film and TV and their first collaboration was born: Orpheus VR – an interactive opera video game for Oculus Quest.
Motion capture technology was adopted as a storytelling device, to help the performers embody their avatars and bring an added dimension to the digital representation of the show. It also made sense to play with new creative technologies; re:Naissance was created to be a platform for artists to bring in their classical training, but also to be in dialogue with the contemporary world. In opera, the body is the instrument and with Xsens mocap tech the team were able to bring the avatar to life like an externalization of that instrument. “The Xsens suits are just so easy to throw on and become any avatar you want or any mythological creature you can think of,” Debi shares.
Subscribe here to be the first to know when Episode 3 of Live from the Underworld will be released.
About re:Naissance Opera
We produce modern-day operatic performances that represent and connect the diverse communities, people, storytelling media and voices unique to our home-city of Vancouver, BC. We are committed to and advocate for equity, diversity, social and artistic innovation, artistic excellence, interdisciplinary art-making, risk-taking, and cross-sector collaboration.
To learn more, visit https://reopera.ca/
Movella™ is a full-stack hardware, software, and data analytics company created by the consolidation of mCube, Xsens, and Kinduct. Movella is a global innovator of advanced technologies and products that sense, capture and analyze all aspects of movement. Movella serves the entertainment, sports, health, and industrial markets by capturing and transforming movement data into meaningful and actionable insights. Working with the leading global brands such as Electronic Arts, NBC Universal, Netflix, Daimler, Siemens, and over 500 sports teams, we are creating extraordinary outcomes that move humanity forward. To learn more, visit https://www.movella.com.
Sean Earley is the Executive Editor of AR/VR Magazine & co-founder of RobotSpaceship Podcast Network. He is the Director of New Biz Development and Publishing at KEMWEB, a musician, producer & consultant. He loves guitars, VR and coffee.