London’s Royal Opera House is all set to welcome and immerse audiences in a new opera in hyper-reality made possible by virtual reality tech. Called the “Current, Rising,” it is the world’s first VR opera and opens at the Linbury Theatre on May 20 and runs until June 9.
It will be a 15-minute-long experience with showings scheduled throughout the day for up to four people at a time. The tickets cost between $20 and $30, allowing the attendees to pick a suitable time slot at the time of the booking.
Right before the show, they’ll get headphones and a VR headset connected to a computer that they will carry in a backpack. Then, the other three people in their group will appear as avatars as they enter the VR world.
Usually, traditional operas feature characters who lead viewers on a narrative journey, but the VR opera will take a different approach.
Instead, attendees will be “traversing together the landscapes of the night, from twilight to dawn, exploring ideas of isolation, connection, and collective reimagination,” as per a press release. In addition, the “Current, Rising” was inspired by the liberation of the character of Ariel in Shakespeare’s “The Tempest,” providing the audience something a bit more concrete to latch onto.
“Current, Rising” isn’t likely to transform the world of opera as we know it. The medium has been around for centuries, and many traditionalists will no doubt lean towards the conventional format instead of VR.
However, it could mark the beginning of a new branch in opera’s evolutionary tree, exclaimed director Netia Jones. “This isn’t the future of opera,” Jones said, “but it could be one of its futures.”
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