Interactive Opera: How does it work?

19 Nov

If you’re the kind of person who needs a direct comparison to understand an idea… this post is not going to go very well for you. That’s because interactive opera has never really been done before, at least, not the way I imagine it working.

There’s a musical called Drood where the audience votes to decide “Whodunnit”, but I don’t think that’s any more interactive than a results show of American Idol.
There are interactive versions of operas for children online, where kids get to pick costumes and dance styles. For a really fun time, click to see Hansel & Gretel. Even the workshop version of my opera had a children’s theatre vibe, but I’m convinced there is an effective way of presenting interactive opera in a dramatic context for a mature audience.

I would be a poor excuse for a child of the 80s if I didn’t admit the obvious influence of Choose Your Own Adventure books, but the style lacks a satisfying dramatic arc, and is logistically impossible to translate into a performable art form.

Instead, several of the scenes in my opera will have two related, but different trajectories. For example, Charlie is in a big meeting; in one trajectory, the meeting goes wonderfully and his colleagues support all of his ideas, in the other, his low blood sugars makes it impossible for him to understand what’s going on, and his boss loses confidence in him…
I’ve found a way to shift between the two trajectories at a moment’s notice, without requiring the performers to learn two separate scenes. I’d tell you how, but that would be like asking the magician where he hid the rabbit… 😉

What makes the opera truly interactive, is how the trajectory is chosen. It is chosen by the audience themselves, based on how well they answer questions about the scene they just saw!
Built into the Narrator‘s role, are musicalized multiple-choice questions.If the audience correctly answers enough questions, the main character experiences the lesser of two evils;if not, Charlie suffers. In effect, the audience joins in the action of the opera – they, too, have to learn how to manage type one diabetes!

I know I didn’t cover everything, but there’s more info to be uncovered. Leave questions in the comments section – that way I’ll be able to tell you exactly what you want to know.


2 Responses to “Interactive Opera: How does it work?”

  1. Mike November 27, 2012 at 12:44 am #

    Hey Michael, I love the concept, and it’s great that you’re blogging about the process of realizing such a massive (and unconventional) work. I hope I’m in Vancouver to see it!


    • Michael Park November 27, 2012 at 9:44 am #

      Thanks, I’m glad to hear the idea can garner attention outside of the diabetes world! Stay tuned on here, but I’m hoping to explore some beyond-Vancouver performance opportunities.

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