The COVID pandemic has altered the way artists and performers reach their audience. Large gatherings like concerts, art shows, and stage performances were not only discouraged, but more often than not, illegal! Although we can expect some return to normalcy as the infection rate drops, we are most likely faced with a “new normal” in the arts. Many opera companies, for example, especially those that maintained expensive brick-and-mortar offices and stage, went under. Venues have been forced to close their doors, many permanently. Virtual performance, such as virtual opera, may be the answer!
However, when one door closes, as is often the case, another door opens. The pandemic has given rise to the “virtual performance”. In a strange way, this new direction may help some art forms, as in the long run, such as with opera, interest and support has been on the decline for decades. Attending an opera was often expensive, and required traveling to/from a central location, typically in a city center. I remember in Los Angeles, going to the Disney Center in downtown LA for a concert or play seemed almost life threatening not to mention nerve racking traveling back and forth and crowded and stop-and-go freeways.
With virtual performance, this frustration, and high cost, disappear. Performances are no longer centrally located, and virtually accessible to almost anyone anywhere with an internet connection. The virtual performance methodology is new, and will inevitably go through a number of experimental iterations to determine what works and what doesn’t, but the journey has definitely started.
Below you will find one such “experiment”, a virtual opera composed by One Mind Media co-founder JR Wilson. This virtual opera celebrates 700 years of Dante’s epic poem, “Divine Comedy”. See what you think.