The FIRST-EVER horror opera series for virtual reality has officially arrived! Opera on Tap (a non-profit with a mission to expose new audiences to opera by performing it in alternative venues) has produced The Parksville Murders, an immersive and spine-chilling experience that combines film, technology, and opera.
Recently, we sat down with four of the creators from The Parksville Murders, including; Anne Hiatt – Executive Producer (and the General Director of Opera on Tap), Jerre Dye– Librettist (and actor!), Todd Perlmutter: Co-Executive Producer (and the previous Creative Director of Music and Sound for Blue Man Group) and Cari Ann Shim Sham*– Director (and Professor of Dance New Media at NYU).
Scroll down to see our exclusive interview!
The Parksville Murders was created to push the boundaries on how people experience and perceive opera. The first episode is only about 9 minutes long but it’s jammed packed with music and horrifying moments that will make you jump in your seat!
“Instead of watching opera in the theater, now you can watch a fully immersive experience in the privacy of your own home,” says Anne Hiatt, Executive Producer of The Parksville Murders. “The hope is that people will download this on their VR device, see this modern-day opera and drop their perceptions that opera is of the past and not relevant to today’s culture.”.
The first scene starts in a dark room (that later transforms into the woods) where a woman is lying in a bathtub paralyzed with fear and covered with blood. At this point, we found ourselves looking to the left and right of us, while wearing our VR device, to see if the murderer is hiding in the shadows.
Miraculously, the woman is still alive and starts to warn us that “they’re coming back!” and to “please take her home.”. Hauntingly, you start to see shadows of figures start walking your way and then in a terrifying flash, you realize that they’re now standing RIGHT NEXT TO YOU! Would you be able to keep on your headset??
They chose Parksville, New York as their location because of its desolate atmosphere that has traces of previous existence (old beat-up buildings and run-down houses) but is now hauntingly empty, lending itself to ghostly things from the past lying about.
“But, at the same time, it’s beautiful and picturesque,” says Jerri Dye, Librettist of The Parksville Murders. “So it’s contrast of the woods and the beauty and then evidence of human existence really sets the perfect setting for this horror series.”
This group is now exhibiting the piece with a performance and experience around the VR opera that was recently premiered at the Samsung 360 event in San Francisco. “We have an inflatable dome that we’re using that has projected video imagery on it,” says Cari Ann Shim Sham*, Director of The Parksville Murders. “Inside the dome, the first thing you see is the monumental tub that is in the opera. There are also Watchers in the dome, “dead bodies” in the dome and lots of blood.”
They’ve even written an aria that’s sung by a new and frightening character in costume as they take escort you inside this mysterious dome along with a special “Parksville Murders scent” that plays with all your senses. “I loved working on this opera because it pushes the boundaries of how music is consumed,” says Todd Perlmutter, Co-Executive Producer of The Parksville Murders. “From someone who is relatively new to opera, I was immediately hooked after seeing and hearing the talent from these performers in such a dynamic way!”
We just had to find out more about their inspiration behind The Parksville Murders and what it’s been like being the FIRST group to convert opera into a virtual reality horror series. Click the video above to watch our exclusive Red Curtain Addict episode and see their behind-the-scenes footage!
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