Black Fell (an interactive online digital opera)

DC Labs is part of an exciting collaboration with the Department of Music and Scottish Ensemble to create an interactive digital opera that is experienced entirely in a virtual space.

The project follows on from an award-winning interactive collaboration between composer Martin Suckling from the Department of Music and Scottish Ensemble entitled; ‘these bones, this flesh, this skin’.

This latest project aims to take advantage of the uniquely interactive environment that the ‘online’ venue provides to explore the potential of the medium for classical music.

Notably, the project proposes an entirely sightless environment, comparable to The Nightjar video-game (Somethin’ Else, 2011), where the audience member moves through the story experience by sound alone.

Black Fell aims to provide a narrative richness by presenting audience members with individual combinations of musical and dramatic situations depending on what pathway they choose to navigate through the virtual space. A single playing will last around five minutes, and with the music combining generative and pre-recorded elements leading the audience member in different directions, every playthrough will be unique.

As with these bones, this flesh, this skin, the full story only emerges over several iterations, with the listener’s choices as to how they move through the virtual space determining the particular text-sequence, orchestration, and structure they hear.

The soundscape for the creation will be derived entirely from a sole female vocalist, namely celebrated mezzo-soprano Loré LIxenburg, and a solo violinist. Acclaimed poet and author, Frances Leviston from the Centre for New Writing at the University of Manchester will provide the words.

The experience will be delivered in the form of a mobile app and a bespoke website, with a simple interface allowing audio and audience movement through the acoustic environment via headphones.

DC Labs will provide expertise in developing the initial prototype, where the concept of a digital opera will be explored alongside musicians, poets and composers. DC Labs will also develop and refine the final form of the interactive experience and assist with deployment of the production onto the internet.