Vancouver opera company brings audience in with virtual reality performance of Orpheus

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Tapestry Opera 2019 production Augmented Opera. Dahlia Katz/Dahlia Katz On Canada’s West Coast, something revolutionary is ready for its big debut. OrpheusVR, the latest project out of Vancouver-based indie opera company re: Naissance Opera, is the first-of-its-kind opera created for virtual reality. It’s exactly what it sounds like: The audience member puts on a VR headset – namely, the Oculus Quest – and steps into an immersive world. The avatars sing arias, the user decides how the story unfolds, and the music morphs along with it. “Orpheus,” sings Eurydice in OrpheusVR’s trailer, “What have you done?” Debi Wong, the singer and multidisciplinary artist who founded re:Naissance Opera in 2017, has been hinting at the fusion of opera and VR for at least a year. Her 2019 production for Toronto’s Tapestry Opera, Augmented Opera, was more traditional, with the audience sitting in physical seats, listening to the acoustic sounds of human voices. The story, though, pondered an afterlife in augmented reality, and the score (Benton Roark) featured a bold dose of electronic music. Wong is as much into brand new as she is into baroque opera, and she’s made a signature style out of her bent toward combining old …

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