“It was an honour to be invited to compose Out of the Ordinary/ As an nGnách. I also felt some trepidation… what even is a community opera in virtual reality? There were so many unknowns. The creative process that unfolded was certainly the most challenging — but also the most rewarding — experience of my career. I worked closely with our three inspiring communities across a series of workshops (via Zoom from Manhattan, mid-pandemic) before we finally met in person. It was humbling to be part of this beautifully collaborative experience. I am deeply grateful to everyone involved and am delighted to finally be able to share this with the world.”
Director Jo Mangan says:
“Coming to the end of an incredibly involved process is always a wrench, but this one ran across all the lockdowns, was completed against the odds with colleagues as far flung as New York, and Inis Meáin. Being part of the vanguard of a burgeoning medium in these last few years has left me incredibly proud of the work put in by so many creatives and I am excited to hand it over to audiences to unravel and relish. It has been an honour to work with Irish National Opera, Finola Merivale and the entire team on this project, bringing to life the imagery, story, music, animation and movement from our community partners in VR for Out of the Ordinary/As an nGnách.”
The narrative and theme of the work ecology, nature and a fight from danger were developed out of workshops held around Ireland, both in-person and online, when the pandemic prevented face to face meetings. The creative team worked with the participants, and developed the composition, narrative and design through conversation and collaboration.
Out of the Ordinary/As an nGnách transports the audience to an imagined world created through animation. And it offers everyone the ability to move around in and interact with opera in the novel surroundings of a virtual-reality environment. The project was realised by creative production studio Algorithm with support from Virtual Reality Ireland. During the co-creation this ground-breaking work won the coveted Fedora Digital Prize which is supported by leading global management consulting from Kearney.
Out of the Ordinary/As an nGnách was developed as part of TRACTION, a project involving nine international partners that was funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 initiative. The project brings together experts from the arts, technology and academic sectors to research and develop new technologies and search out new ways to involve local communities in opera. Out of the Ordinary/As an nGnách is one of three pilot projects in Ireland, Portugal and Spain that are testing these new processes.
James Bingham INO’s studio and outreach producer, who devised and managed the project, says “It’s been exhilarating to work in such uncharted waters and I’m delighted that after nearly three years developing this piece we’re finally able to share it with the public. We’ve had communities totally new to opera input into the creative processes in every aspect of this work. We’ve handed power over to the people of Ireland and let them decide on the story they want to tell as well as how the opera should look, sound and feel. These ideas have been shaped by our fantastic team of professional artists and the result is a unique and unprecedented work of art.”