An all-female creative team has been assembled by the Royal Opera House to develop the “world’s first opera in hyperreality”, as part of a drive to expand audiences through the use of new technologies.
Called Hyphen, the opera will be created using digital simulation and will allow audience members to step inside the production.
The plans were revealed by Royal Opera House head of audience labs Annette Mees during a panel event discussing the future of arts and culture in England, organised by Westminster Media Forum.
Mees explained that the ROH has commissioned an all-female creative team to make the opera, which will be presented at Coal Drops Yard in London in 2020.
The ROH is also currently working with choreographer Wayne McGregor to create a ballet that combines digital bodies and real dancers.
This project is being made in collaboration with technology company Magic Leap, which makes mixed-reality goggles that allow audience members to see real and digital bodies simultaneously.
Mees said: “We’ve done so much as a sector, but we’re still dealing with inclusivity. For us, technology offers stages that can break out of those four walls and pop up in different places where people that we want to speak to already are.
“It also allows us to work in new ways and think about new voices – it opens up what a creative team looks like.”
Mees also stressed the importance of giving organisations enough time and money for research and development to help artists find ways to work with new technologies.
Her comments echoed remarks from Jeremy Silver, chief executive of innovation company Digital Catapult, who was also speaking on the panel.
Silver argued that the UK needs to “find more ways of doing research and development” that is not linked to particular productions, to ensure the UK remains a world leader in the use of new immersive technologies.
He added: “What we’re seeing in the industry is that R&D happens in the context of an individual production, and there is no separate R&D project, there is no opportunity to explore [use of the technology] for its own sake, to see what might come from that.”