AR Goes to the Opera
Arcade brings augmented reality to opera with A Vixen’s Tale, a mixed physical and digital experience designed to immerse opera-goers new and old in the story of Leoš Janáček’s iconic The Cunning Little Vixen. The work was commissioned by Welsh National Opera (WNO), and launched at WNO’s Explore Opera Day on October 5th at Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff.
It uses play to integrate digital innovation with theatre to create a unique, delightful and hugely rewarding approach to immersive storytelling.
Fusing together music and theatre with augmented reality, visitors use iPhone XR devices paired with stylised bluetooth headphones to ‘follow the vixen’ through a series of gamified vignettes, each unlocking a section of the story. The dramatic experience plays out across a series of five beautifully crafted wooden arches that represent the passing of time and the vixen’s personal emotional narrative arc.
The result is a multi-layered experience: the visually imposing arches with embedded speakers make for an arresting and intriguing experience for passers-by to explore; fun AR Snapchat lenses bring casual audiences closer to the vixen’s and her tale; and the curious are rewarded with a full, deeply immersive and rewarding visual and audio experience as they journey through the arches alongside the vixen herself listening to impressive WNO opera recordings.
Our concept, inspired by 19th century theatrical tunnel books, called for both physical and digital design, which for us was the perfect challenge.
‘A Vixen’s Tale’ launched to the public in the Millennium Centre in Cardiff on October 5th and ran until the end of the month. During this time the installation welcomed 5,939 recorded visitors through the opening hours alone, with over 80% of groups including younger audiences – a key metric of success for WNO.
To date A Vixen’s Tale has been shortlisted for several awards including VR Days Halo Awards, Virtuality: XR Awards and Creative Review, and WNO plans for it to tour nationally and internationally in 2020.
One of the really positive aspects of working with Arcade is that i feel it has helped us embed digital more within the organisation.