OrpheusVR is an indie VR game prototype that I have been working on in conjunction with Debi Wong of re:Naissance Opera, Brian Lee Topp, and Youhan Guan. The project was conceived as a way to engage new virtual reality platforms with the ancient art form of opera. Live From The Underworld is a series of interactive live-stream performances featuring mythological avatars brought to life by real-time motion capture technology and live opera singers.
In 2018 a team of digital and opera artists came together to ask “what would opera look like if it were invented today?”. From that initial question OrpheusVR, an interactive, choose-your-own-adventure, virtual-reality opera was born. After completing the prototype in 2021, the OrpheusVR team started working in the digital live stream space, using iClone real-time animation software, iClone’s LIVE FACE mocap with Xsens body live motion capture technology and computer avatars from the OrpheusVR world to create live, interactive operatic performances that can be streamed from any device.
Debi Wong is an interdisciplinary performance artist that loves to weave together sound, text, movement and technology to create contemporary stories. Her performances have been recognized as “unique and magical” (Rondo Classic) and “electric” (Schmopera).
As a soloist, Debi has performed with leading orchestras and ensembles across Europe and North America most notably with her lute and voice duo, White Sparrow at The Stockholm Early Music Festival, The Copenhagen Renaissance Music Festival, The BRQ Vantaa Festival (Helsinki), Garrick’s Temple To Shakespeare (UK) and the Venice Biennale. Debi is currently artistic director of re:Naissance Opera, a Vancouver-based indie-opera company.
Debi is the founding artistic director of re:Naissance Opera in Vancouver, BC. With re:Naissance she has created #DidoAndAeneas (2014), an interactive, social-media opera; Acis & Galatea which was recognized by Vancouver Classical Music as one of the city’s best operas in 2017. In 2019, Debi spearheaded OrpheusVR, an interactive Virtual Reality Opera that was featured at the VIFF Immersed exhibit at the 2020 Vancouver International Film Festival and in 2020 she co-created the award-winning podcast The Apocrypha Chronicles (Finalist, New York Festivals Radio Awards).
Debi is a graduate of Yale University (M.Mus) and The Yale Institute of Sacred Music (Diploma in Sacred Music), where she studied vocal performance and was the recipient of the 2010 Margot Fassler award for outstanding performances in sacred music. She is currently a Doctoral candidate at The University of the Arts Helsinki.
Conrad is a 3D Artist with a deep passion for the medium and its many platforms. He specializes in real time graphics and has been producing architectural visualization for virtual reality projects for 4 years, and has worked on several iterations of the VR Theatre for SIGGRAPH in 2018 and 2019. He has a deep interest in the crossroads of experimentation with emergent technologies such as VR and AR, and traditional theatrical and art contexts.
Conrad and Debi began collaborating in 2018 when Debi took an interest in the digital art and virtual reality games Conrad was creating at the Centre for Digital Media. Their initial conversations led to the 2020 prototype of OrpheusVR, an interactive, VR opera for Oculus Quest and Live From The Underworld (2021), a new interactive live stream that uses mythological CG avatars, motion capture and dancers and singers to innovate live opera and online performance.
“It is pretty complicated, but at the same time we’ve entered into these partnerships with, for example, Reallusion Software, and they’ve really created these user-friendly tools that have really helped us as indie producers.”Debi Wong – Founding Artistic Director