Opera on Tap has announced its most innovative project yet: an episodic horror opera created for Virtual Reality, entitled The Parksville Murders.
The piece, featuring music by Kamala Sankaram and libretto by Jerre Dye, directed by Cari Ann Shim Sham*, is being produced by Shim Sham*, Opera On Tap's Anne Hiatt and former Blue Man Group creative director Todd Perlmutter, in collaboration with leading virtual reality production company Light Sail VR. Watch the trailer at www.theparksvillemurders.com and below!
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 will be released in late January 2017, though there will be a special preview exhibit for RSVP guests on October 27, 7-10PM at the DUMBO Archway, in collaboration with the DUMBO Business Improvement District. The evening will feature an exclusive preview exhibit with VR viewing of the full episode, as well as live music from bands, including composer Kamala Sankaram's ensemble Bombay Rickey, and refreshments.
Sankaram's music for the piece will be largely diagetic, consisting of sounds ranging from a sharpening knife 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 and Hero 360 GoPro system 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."
THE PARKSVILLE MURDERS is made possible with the support of OPERA America's Building Opera Audiences grant program supported by the Ann and Gordon Getty Foundation.
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 19 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 wild new media artist living in Brooklyn, NY. Her film work has screened at Laemmle Sunset 7, Mann Chinese Theater, and the United Nations General Assembly, 175+ festivals internationally including Cannes, Austin, Seattle, Dance Camera West and Dance Films Association, garnering numerous awards including Best Director from the First Glance Film Festival & Best Short Doc from St. Louis & Oxford Film Festivals for her film SAND and the World's Largest Premiere from Record Breakers and the Vimeo Social Change Award for One Day on Earth, the first film to be shot in every country of the world on the same day.
Her live work and video art has shown at Jacob's Pillow, PS 21, Peak Performances, the Joyce Soho, and has developed through technical residencies at The Krannert Center, Clarice Smith Art Center, Danspace in NYC, Dance Place, DC and numerous times at REDCAT including the NOW Festival & RADAR LA. She is a recipient of the Surdna Arts Teachers Fellowship, the Chime's Choreographer Mentorship Exchange and was a mentor for the ODC Pilot Program's first ever multi-media residency and served as the Director for the Topanga Film Festival in 2015 and produced the festival in 2014.
Shim Sham* is currently developing video artistry for Kevin Williamson, David Roussève, Emily Beattie and Lionel Popkin, in pre-production on a feature dance film with David Roussève and over the moon delighted to be teaching for the NYU TISCH Dance and New Media program while serving as the Filmmaker/Photographer for the "Translucent Borders," a project of the NYU Global Institute for Advanced Study directed by Andy Teirstein.
Praised as "strikingly original" (NY Times), Kamala Sankaram has received commissions from Beth Morrison Projects, HERE Arts Center, the Brooklyn Youth Chorus, and Opera on Tap, among others. Awards and grants include: Jonathan Larson Award, Kevin Spacey Foundation, NEA ArtWorks, MAP Fund, Opera America. Residencies: Civilians Research and Development Group, HERE Artist Residency Program, the MacDowell Colony, the Watermill Center, the Hermitage, Con Edison/Exploring the Metropolis, and American Lyric Theater's Composer Librettist Development Program.
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, premiered in the 2014 PROTOTYPE Festival, and was featured on NPR, Agence France Presse, and media outlets around the world. THUMBPRINT will next be produced as part of the 2016/17 season at LA Opera and at Opera Ithaca.
As a performer, Kamala has been hailed as "an impassioned soprano with blazing high notes" (Wall Street Journal). Recent appearances have included FUTURITY (Soho Rep/Ars Nova), MASTERPIECES (Ostrava Days) and TRILLIUM J (Anthony Braxton). She is the frontwoman and a composer for the band Bombay Rickey, whose debut album won the 2015 Vox Pop Award for Best Eclectic Album from the Independent Music Awards.
Jerre Dye is a Chicago-based writer, director, and actor. His play, CICADA, for which Dye is the recipient of the Award for Dramatic Literature from the Fellowship of Southern Writers, premiered in 2014 with Route 66 Theatre Company.
Recently, Dye completed the libretto for GHOSTS OF CROSSTOWN, a new short opera cycle in collaboration with Opera Memphis and four composers from across the US: MOVIN' UP IN THE WORLD with composer Zachary Redler (subsequent performances at the National Civil Rights Museum and Missouri State University), ABANDONED with composer Kamran Ince (featured at the Opera America New Works Sampler 2014), IVONNE with composer Nathaniel Stookey (featured at the Opera America New Works Sampler 2015), MITCH AND THE MOON with composer Jack Perla. He is currently working on new commissions for Chautauqua Opera and The US Army Field Band and Chorus.
Light Sail VR is a bleeding edge immersive cinema production company and studio determined to push the boundaries of creative storytelling in Virtual Reality. Founded by managing partners Matthew Celia and Robert Watts in 2015, Light Sail VR specializes in live-action Virtual Reality content with great characters and compelling narratives. Their Paranormal Activity 360 Short, which was produced for Paramount Pictures, has been viewed over 5 million times. Recent work includes A-list talent such as Dr. Phil, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, baseball legend Reggie Jackson, and high profile clients such as GoPro and SAP.
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.