Opera On Tap to Release Episode 1 of World's First Virtual Reality Horror Opera Series
Opera on Tap has announced the release of Episode 1 of the world's first virtual reality horror opera, entitled The Parksville Murders, on October 20 exclusively on Samsung VR. The episode will be featured exclusively on the Samsung VR app on Gear VR with Controller powered by Oculus and at samsungvr.com.
The release will coincide with a special screening at Samsung VR Presents: An Evening in 360 (event page here) in San Francisco on October 19, which will include new operatic content from the series by Kamala Sankaram and Jerre Dye performed by Benjamin Bloomfield, with interactive video art projections by Cari Ann Shim Sham* and costumes by Ramona Ponce.
Additionally, The Parksville Murders will be featured at the Future of StoryTelling (FoST) conference in NYC from October 6-8, following a series of viewings and installations at the SALEM Horror Fest earlier this month. The piece, directed by Cari Ann Shim Sham* and featuring music by Kamala Sankaram and libretto by Jerre Dye, is being produced by Shim Sham*, Opera On Tap's Anne Hiatt, and former Blue Man Group creative director Todd Perlmutter with VR production by Light Sail VR.
Episode 1 received the Best Virtual Reality Video award at this year's NYC Independent Film Festival, and was also an official selection of the Topanga Film Festival.
Inspired by the genre-bending horror classics from Cronenberg, Lynch and others, The Parksville Murders places viewers in a dimly-lit kill room in the Catskills, NY, standing amidst a group of mysterious, hooded "watchers" as they gaze upon two terrified young women, one paralyzed, lying in a bathtub full of dead leaves. The episode stars Kacey Cardin as Corinne, Mikki Sodergren as Sarah, and features ensemble members of Opera on Tap's New Brew series.
Sankaram's music for the piece will be largely diegetic, consisting of sounds ranging from sharpening knives to TV static to footsteps. Sankaram says of the project: "Opera has had a problematic relationship with its female characters: in general, if you're powerful, you must die and/or go crazy at the end. Horror works under a similarly stringent set of rules-behave or you will die-so, an operatic horror movie is the perfect medium to address these issues."
In addition to being shot on a "dark corner" video camera rig at cutting-edge (and appropriately-named) Beaverkill Studio, the producers will incorporate a groundbreaking audio setup with live, omnidirectional sound design, in order to create a 3-D audio experience to accentuate Kamala's composition, and which will essentially adjust the soundscape on the fly depending on where the viewer is looking.
The sound for The Parksville Murders has been mixed by HEAR360 and its audio parts were recorded using an 8 Ball microphone created by HEAR360. Users will be able to experience immersive 3D binaural sound effects whenever they rotate their heads.
Says Shim Sham* of the project: "We want to involve the audience, give them a role, allow them to make choices, and to be implicated in the scene, perhaps as a killer or as a witness, which serves as a greater metaphor for what is in our future of VR: being "watchers" of a new and addictive form of immersive media."
Explaining how the project is a fit for Opera On Tap, Hiatt says: "Our company has always focused on finding new ways to make opera more accessible, specializing in 'opera up close.' The Parksville Murders allows us to take the next logical step in bringing opera to new and broader audiences, and we couldn't be more excited."
Watch a teaser for the show below!
Opera on Tap has always been dedicated to making opera more accessible to a broader audience through intimate, immersive performances. Born in 2005 at Freddy's Bar and Backroom in Brooklyn, what began as a small monthly gathering of ambitious, classically trained singers looking for more performance opportunities has grown into a vibrant producing organization with 20 national (and international) chapters. An early leader in the movement towards bringing opera directly to new audiences in alternative venues, Opera on Tap has proven over and over that opera can be a transformational and meaningful experience for audiences, regardless of venue.
Cari Ann Shim Sham* is a Manhattan based prestidigitator who loves living a wild artist's life. A newly anointed Associate Arts Professor of Dance & Technology at NYU, TISCH School of the Arts Dance Department, she is attracted to things that sparkle, a collector of antique doorknobs and a lover of champagne. Her awards include Best VR as the Director of the Parksville Murders from NYC Indie Film Fest, Best Director from the First Glance Film Festival & Best Short Doc from St. Louis & Oxford Film Festivals for her film SAND and Best Experimental Short from the New Orleans Film Festival for her Cinematography & Editing on Two Seconds After Laughter. Her live work and video art has shown at notable venues such as Jacob's Pillow, PS 21, Peak Performances, the Joyce Soho, Krannert, Clarice Smith Art Center, Danspace in NYC, Dance Place, DC and REDCAT, her film work has screened at Laemmle Sunset 7, Mann Chinese Theater, and the United Nations General Assembly, and 200+ festivals internationally including Cannes, Austin, Seattle, Dance Camera West and DFA. Shim Sham* was the first video artist to redesign the set/sound and video art for Rauschenberg's Shiner as part of a revival of Set & Reset by Trisha Brown at NYU Tisch Dance and is delighted to be the lead Filmmaker/Photographer for the Translucent Borders Project of the NYU Global Institute of Advanced Study. Her curatorial practice is a decade deep and engages audiences through dance film, virtual reality, and interactive technologies at play. www.cariannshimsham.com
Kamala Sankaram has received commissions from Washington National Opera, Houston Grand Opera, Beth Morrison Projects, the PROTOTYPE Festival, Opera Memphis, and the Brooklyn Youth Chorus, among others. She is the recipient of a Jonathan Larson Award from the American Theater Wing, and has received grants from Opera America, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Kevin Spacey Foundation, and the MAP Fund. Residencies and fellowships include the MacDowell Colony, the Watermill Center, The Civilians, HERE Arts Center, CAP21, Con Edison/Exploring the Metropolis, the Hermitage, and American Lyric Theater. As a resident artist at HERE Arts Center, Kamala created MIRANDA, which was the winner of the New York Innovative Theatre Award for Outstanding Production of a Musical. Her opera, THUMBPRINT (written with librettist Susan Yankowitz), premiered in the 2014 PROTOTYPE Festival, and was featured on NPR, Agence France Presse, and media outlets around the world. THUMBPRINT has since received productions at LA Opera and Opera Ithaca.
As a performer, Kamala has been hailed as "an impassioned soprano with blazing high notes" (Wall Street Journal). She has performed and premiered pieces with Beth Morrison Projects, Anthony Braxton, and the Wooster Group, among others, and is the leader of Bombay Rickey, an operatic Bollywood surf ensemble whose debut was named Best Eclectic Album by the Independent Music Awards Vox Pop. Bombay Rickey's opera-cabaret on the life of Yma Sumac premiered in the 2016 PROTOTYPE Festival and was most recently presented in London at Téte á Téte Opera's Cubitt Sessions. Bombay Rickey has been selected for the 2017/18 season's Mid-Atlantic Arts touring roster, and will release their sophomore album in the spring of 2018.
In addition to her musical pursuits, Kamala has been a voice actor on Comedy Central's Superjail and Cartoon Network's Golden Age. She holds a PhD in Cognitive Psychology from the New School for Social Research, for which she received the Irvin Rock Memorial Award for Outstanding Dissertation.
Jerre Dye is a Chicago-based playwright, opera librettist, director, and actor. He is the recipient of the Award for Dramatic Literature from the Fellowship of Southern Writers. His plays include: DISTANCE, CICADA, SHORT/STORIES, THREADS, THE NEW ADVENTURES OF HANSEL AND GRETEL, WILD SWANS, SID AND THE MAGIC BOX and an adaptation of Stravinsky's A SOLDIER'S TALE with Iris Orchestra. His opera librettos include: GHOSTS OF CROSSTOWN for Opera Memphis (featured at the Opera America Annual Conference as part of the New Works Sampler 2014 and 2015), PARKSVILLE MURDERS, a filmed, episodic, virtual reality opera for Opera On Tap/New York, THE FALLING AND THE RISING with The US Army Soldiers' Chorus (co-commission for Arizona Opera, Seattle Opera, San Diego Opera, Opera Memphis, Seagle Music Colony, and Texas Christian University), CHAUTAUQUA STORIES for Chautauqua Opera in Chautauqua, NY, BY/IN for Opera Memphis, TAKING UP SERPENTS for Washington National Opera and an upcoming commission for Opera Philadelphia.
Light Sail VR is a Hollywood-based VR Production Company taking the helm of the evolving field of cinematic virtual reality storytelling. At the entertainment-savvy studio, creative producers and 360 writer-directors collaborate on live-action experiences, bringing compelling narratives, dynamic characters and entrancing visuals to every kind of VR project. From powerful original content to high-profile branded pieces for the likes of Google, ABC, GoPro and Paramount, Light Sail VR's work captivates audiences and garners millions of views on the web.
Experts in this emerging technology, Light Sail VR continues to steer new ways to capitalize on VR's ability to inspire, innovate and engage.
Inspired by nature, fueled by state of the art technology, Beaverkill Studio features a fully equipped green screen studio in the heart of the Catskills - a working retreat for creatives who need to get the job done, offering pre-production, production, and post-production in one place.