Interactive Opera

The Price Paid for Interactivity in Live Performance by Ellen Fishman

While at the Peabody Conservatory for my doctoral studies in music composition, I studied computer music and took a C ++ programming class. While I decided to end my programming studies after that class, I had no idea that immersing myself in loops and variables would help shape my professional career.

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Marie Begins Update! by Ellen Fishman

It has been a whirlwind since receiving the Discovery Grant for Female Composers from Opera America just over a year ago. Since that time, we went into production in November of 2017, then Tri-Cities Opera presented a workshop performance at the Opera America New Works Forum in New York in January, 2018, and the online pilot was released in March, 2018. I am trying to finish a piano work before completing the opera this summer since we have a full workshop performance by Lyric Opera Theater at Arizona State University in September. It's going to be a busy summer but I am thrilled with the reception and interest in this interactive opera. Stay tuned for information about the premiere of the live version and if you haven't seen the pilot, take a look!

Interactivity and musical form by Ellen Fishman

In the way a script is driven by conflict, a storyworld is propelled by discovery.           Lance Weiler

As I have worked toward creating interactive musical works, I have come across many great resources that I thought I would share.  This research has led me to non-linear story forms that I am using as the basis for Marie Begins, an interactive opera.   

I had this diagram of Inception on my bulletin board for years before I began this research.  The quote above has become very important to me since musical form is tied to a tradition similar to that of storytelling.  So what changes in musical form when introducing audience interaction and an experience that is "propelled by discovery?" 

I met Lance Weiler a number of years back when he brought DIY Days to Philadelphia.  There were innovators of all kinds at this workshop and many were creating new ways to use the Internet to tell stories.  Lance is now the Director of Experiential Learning and Applied Creativity at Columbia University.  He launched Sherlock Holmes and the Internet of Things which is a fascinating global storytelling project that I had the opportunity to take part in.   There have been global music making projects as well like Eric Whitacre's Virtual Choir series, but Lance's model gathers people in the act of collaboration. 

I began to feel as if an interactive opera would be possible after finding which is now Eko.  They provide an engine to create interactive stories. Check out some of their work here.  There are other resources now but they were one of the first.  My favorite was a piece for LogoTV

Lance also told me of a new form of documentary which has been developed with a faster Internet. Here are a few examples of interactive documentary:

The Silent History

Immigrant Nation

The Last Hijack

More Soon!