What it’s like to take in a virtual-reality opera

Posted on: May 7, 2021

“I’m standing in the small space that is hosting the world’s first ever virtual reality opera,” writes Stuart Jeffries in Tuesday’s (4/5) Guardian (U.K.). “I have a headset, headphones and a backpack. The Royal Opera House is calling this the opera Tardis; to me it seems more like a walk-through art installation with bespoke soundtrack. Whatever this is, it isn’t opera as we know it…. Only four people can enter the opera … at one time … A variety of effects are transmitted to our headsets by unseen technicians via the computers in our backpacks…. The strings of the seven-piece Chroma ensemble accompany [soprano Anna] Dennis, who is singing a hummable, overdubbed canon with herself. Samantha Fernando’s music (with words by Melanie Wilson) is piped into our headsets throughout the entire 15-minute experience…. Current, Rising is brief but so much is packed into it that it feels rather overwhelming…. Singer and musicians don’t lead the action as opera usually would, and very nearly become ancillary to an experience that is multi-sensory but overwhelmingly visual…. What is most radical about Current, Rising is not the technology but how the creative process has been flipped.”