Sunday, November 14, 2010

What's Opera, Doc?

Paul DiPierro

Forget Bugs Bunny. Animation is now being used in real operas.
The use of computer animation in opera is a growing trend – it offers a broader artistic palette for set design, and for many companies it is also a savvy cost-cutting move. At the Sacramento Opera, animator Paul DiPierro, 26, is charged with supplying eight to 15 scenic projections for "Orlando."

He will compose images on a digital tablet by using Adobe Photoshop and Autodesk Maya. The images will be projected on a large screen and are the equivalent of matte paintings. The images will not be animations, although animated images may be in the works for Sacramento Opera productions, DiPierro said.

"Down the line that is something that I think we will definitely be doing. The company has shown interest in using them for the 'Magic Flute.' "

DiPierro believes that the possibilities are limitless with computer-animated imagery.

"Imagine performers interacting with a fire-breathing dragon, or caught in the middle of a thundering avalanche."

Although that idea sounds far-fetched, opera companies have been doing just that, including Teatro alla Scala in Milan, Italy, which used an animated sequence of a horse moving in a fog bank for a 2006 production of "Dido and Aeneas."


Michael Sporn said...

In 2008 Roundabout Theater imported a production from England of Steven Sondheim's SUNDAY IN THE PARK WITH GEORGE, as close to opera as theater might come. Within the show was easily 20-30 minutes of animation that filled tha stage behind the many human occupants. The animation was not limited but always in motion and beautifully stylized.

They've come a long way since 1980 when I put 20 mins of a dancing cat (Katz) character into WOMAN OF THE YEAR.

roconnor said...

Going back to Max Reinhardt and Brecht's incorporation of projections and film, the opera has been trying to motion pictures (and by extension animation) for nearly a century.

We're seeing technology catch up with the creative vision.

Pilobolus has been doing interesting things in the field with incorporating animation, including a recent collaboration with Art Speigelman.

Stephen Worth said...

The Valencia Ring cycle under Mehta is backed by monumental video screens with a variety of computer generated environments commenting on the action on the stage. It's the best Ring on video.