5 Things We Love About INO - #1 Innovation
The creative process can often lead to innovative solutions, and this ethos resonates throughout Irish National Opera’s work. Since the company’s formation, we have actively sought out ways to present our work in an inventive and engaging way, to open opera up to a new audience, and to continue to push the boundaries of what opera is.
While live, in-person performances are at the core of what we do, we recognise the great potential that technology offers in furthering our reach and creating access. This was particularly poignant during the pandemic, when it was not possible to showcase our usual large-scale and touring productions. In response to this, we looked at ways in which we could safely continue to engage our talented artists and production teams so that they could continue to create wonderful art. Film emerged as a natural fit, and we commissioned 20 short, individual operas, collectively referred to as 20 Shots of Opera, and collaborated with talented sound engineers and film directors to make it possible. It was an enormous project to undertake by a company who had limited experience in filming, but we learned a great deal and produced some ground-breaking work that resonated with audiences in Ireland, and around the world.
“Working on 20 Shots of Opera was an exhilarating deep dive into the unknown, in the company of excellent and inspiring artists. It’s a further reminder of the imagination and resourcefulness that INO have brought to turn this difficult time for the arts into an opportunity for discovery and delight.” - Aoife Spillane-Hinks (director)
“Of the moment, full of character and rich in variety, these short filmed operas by 20 Irish composers and top performers are exemplary lockdown music-making” - The Guardian ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
And as the pandemic dragged on, we took the outdoor event restrictions and worked within them, presenting opera in outdoor settings, as live productions with a pre-recorded orchestra (to comply with Government guidelines), outdoor recitals and even outdoor screenings of operas we made for film.
Thankfully we can now work (carefully) without restrictions, but the innovative approach adapted during those tough times is still very much present in what we do. We recently presented the world’s first Virtual Reality Community Opera entitled Out of the Ordinary/As an gNách, after a period of creation and development. This approach allows us to take opera out of the auditorium and puts the audience member right at the centre. We have had a great response to the first presentations of this work, and we are very much looking forward to presenting it further in 2023 and beyond. The project won the prestigious FEDORA Digital Prize in 2021, and received a nomination for Digital Opera in the 2022 International Opera Awards.
Looking to the future, we are currently in the process of developing a Street Art Performance mobile app and software ecosystem, which will allow us to showcase our work on buildings and landmarks, while perfectly syncing the musical audio which you can listen to on your own headphones, on your own mobile phone. We are particularly excited by this technology because of the potential it can have for both performance and visual artforms throughout the sector. It also has applications for visually impaired audience members in theatres, through audio descriptions. We are currently in Phase 2 of the creation process, made possible by a generous Next Stage grant from Opera Europa / the FEDORA Platform, and we are currently raising funds for Phase 3 development, which will allow the technology to be used by multiple organisations for a variety of uses.
Who knows what the future will bring, but we look forward to rising to the challenge, and collaborating with industry leaders of all kinds to create beautiful, innovative art.
“An exemplary project for Next Stage and I hope it will act as an incentive and lighthouse for the future.” - Nicholas Payne – Director, Opera Europa