Rehersals for L'Orfeo were conducted in front of the high-tech digital set. Photo by Stuart Hay.

Rehersals for L'Orfeo were conducted in front of the high-tech digital set. Photo by Stuart Hay.

Opera's digital renaissance

A collaboration between three seemingly diverse areas of ANU took the world's oldest opera into the digital age. NATASSJA HOOGSTAD HAY reports.

From Vivid to Enlighten, sophisticated digital projections are becoming a mainstay on the festival circuit.

Now opera, one of the oldest forms of musical theatre, is embracing digital technology and using immersive digital projections as a way to provide an entirely new theatre experience.

In a collaboration that spanned the ANU School of Music, School of Art and the Research School of Astrophysics and Astronomy, Llewellyn Hall was transformed into a fully digital set in an opera for the 21st century as L'Orfeo lit up the stage.

The collaboration included a star map from the Research School of Astrophysics and Astronomy providing the backdrop for the final scene, while the ANU School of Art designed costumes for the show and provided extra projections on performance to add to the ambiance. 

L'Orfeo, by the 17th century Italian composer and singer Claudio Monteverdi, tells the story of the Greek legend of the musician Orpheus and his attempt to bring his bride Eurydice back from the dead.

It is oldest opera still in the repertoire today. 

While the myth itself has its roots deep in Greek antiquity, it was Monteverdi who brought the story to life through his ground-breaking opera.

To bring the renaissance opera into the 21st century, School of Music Head of School Peter Tregear enlisted experts Andrew Quinn, for the digital set design, and Alessandro Chiodo for the lighting.

Both based in Milan, the pair has worked together on many live performances and both have backgrounds in film production.