Media Lab Helsinki

Great Conspiracy – The Opera

Ooppera Skaala’s Great Conspiracy – The Opera premiered May 2011. The production has included media production research between Ooppera Skaala, Aalto University’s Department of Media Technology and Crucible Studio.

Great Conspiracy  is a new breed of audiovisual performance best described by the term multimedia opera. The work combines opera singing and electroacoustic music with surround sound and research in motion detection technologies, adaptive stage design and associative narrative. The storyline moves simultaneously along multiple time axes, posing tough questions about who really benefits from conspiracy theories and how governments can actively exploit them to control their citizens in an atmosphere of fear.

The libretto by Arto Koskinen is based on a speech given by John F. Kennedy to the American Newspaper Publishers Association at the Waldorf-Astoria hotel on April 27, 1961. This speech has become the center point of a host of Internet “documents” on conspiracy theories that blend fact and fiction in convoluted ways. The themes of these theories include the events of 9/11; plans for world conquest by the Illuminati; UFO contacts by the United States; and secret research laboratories that JFK’s speech from half a century ago seems to foretell with eerie precision.

In its compositional language, the work explores the limitless possibilities of tonal chromaticism. In addition to opera singing, the instrumentation utilizes computer programming; a virtual symphony orchestra based on sample libraries; synthesizers; soundscapes created from concrete environmental sounds; acoustic instruments and the processed human voice (including Vocoder). The performance venue will be equipped for 5.1 surround sound, enabling audio elements to be placed three-dimensionally in the aural space.

The Department of Media Technology’s RUIS system (Reality-based User Interface System) has also been experimented with as a potential technical platform for using motion detection as an input for interactive and adaptive stage design.

Performances in Korjaamo Culture Factory: 4.5.2011, 5.5.2011, 9.5.2011, 10.5.2011

Streetcar Hall (Vaunuhalli)

Töölönkatu 51 A-B, Helsinki, Finland

Credits

Composed by Eeppi Ursin / Visa Oscar

Libretto: Arto Koskinen

Director: Janne Lehmusvuo

Costume design: Tyra Therman

Sound design: Santtu Sipilä

Choreography: Thomas Freundlich

tenor Petri Bäckström

mezzosoprano Essi Luttinen

soprano Laura Heinonen

baritone Vikke Häkkinen

dancer Thomas Freundlich

Production research has been done together with Aalto University Departments of Media (Crucible Studio: Jaakko Pesonen, Teemu Korpilahti, Mika ‘Lumi’ Tuomola) and Media Technology (Roberto Pugliese, Tuukka Takala, Tapio Takala), funded by Aalto Media Factory. The performance includes video inserts produced by the Crucible Studio.