Digital Prize
Shortlist 2022

Erwartung

Germany
Stiftung Staatstheater Augsburg

Erwartung
ERWARTUNG pushes the concept of immersing oneself into opera into a new dimension; our single-player VR game allows users to not only passively experience Arnold Schönberg’s musical monodrama, but to play it, to embody its heroine and to interact with the story in completely new ways.

Presentation

A young woman is stumbling through a dark wood – she is looking for her lover, who has forsaken her. Frightened by the darkness, she is looking for a place to rest. Just when she has found a lovely wooden bench in a clearing, new horrors await… Arnold Schönberg’s musical monodrama ERWARTUNG was the first composition for the stage that the composer for contemporary music (1874-1951) wrote. Its syntax and tonality lend themselves well to an intimate experiencing of the woman’s plight. From our experience with Virtual Reality in the past, we knew that 3D-designed and animated VR surroundings can leave a powerful impression of presence in a viewer, not unlike the feeling of immersion that can be had in a theatre. But what if, unlike in the theatre, the audience itself could become involved in the story, could be a part of the production, to experience the anguish, pain, confusion and anger of the heroine first hand, to embody a fictional character in order to really understand her emotions expressed in the music? Turning the piece that was written for a stage into a single-player, first-person playable interactive VR experience, we allow users to not only be immersed in the score and the narrative, but interact with them in a completely unique way. The music, conducted by General Music Director of the State Theatre of Augsburg, Domonkos Héja, and performed by the Augsburg Philharmonic Orchestra featuring soprano Sally du Randt, will be recorded in an ambisonic data format that will add to the feeling of being surrounded by the music, being followed by it. The Heimspiel GmbH will not only 3D-design and animate the experience and design the game mechanics, but together with production director André Bücker, design the game play as well, so that the character of the young woman can be played as in a first-person computer game, interacting with her surroundings and choosing her own paths, making ERWARTUNG a one-of-a-kind experience.

Artistic Team

German brothers Felix and Frank Patzke, the founders and managing directors of the Heimspiel GmbH, are emerging artists in the intersecting field of art and technology. They are responsible for creating the storyboard together with director André Bücker, for designing and implementing the game mechanics and the 3D design of the production and incorporating the ambisonic music into the piece. German director André Bücker imagined and wrote the first concept for ERWARTUNG as a single-player VR game; his expertise in technologically-informed theatre and opera productions dates back decades. He is responsible for the production, the mise-en-scène and, together with dramaturge Sophie Walz, for the game play and the seamless continuity of the narrative. Born in Ulm, Sophie Walz is the leading dramaturge for musical theatre and dance at the State Theatre of Augsburg. As the production dramaturgical advisor of ERWARTUNG, Sophie’s close readings of score and libretto reveals the subtext and meta meaning of Schönberg’s composition to the director and producers, combining game play and score into a thrilling narrative through her expertise in continuity and story arcs ; her insights provide the conductor of the Philharmonic Orchestra with necessary context to work in the new realm of theatrical VR production. The South African soprano Sally du Randt and the Hungarian conductor Domonkos Héja will be responsible to bringing the score to life. We know that Sally du Randt’s skilled voice is capable of the complex nuances Schönberg’s composition is offering, and she has wanted to sing this part for a long time. Similarly, Domonkos Héja is looking forward to conducting this very rewarding piece of contemporary composition.

Partners

Heimspiel GmbH

Germany

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