Refreaming opera in mobile media

Reframing opera in mobile media


Rapid development in the technological capacity of mobile devices to stream content from the Internet has opened up a new but yet largely unexamined field for writing, producing and delivering opera. This raises the questions of what constitutes an opera on the mobile platform, and what characteristics would make it unique and different from other recent mediatized forms of opera, such as location sensitive augmented reality operas? So far, there has been little research in this area, in particular that voiced by artists working in the field.

This article presents a case study of an experimental opera, Omnivore, primarily designed and created for on-demand mobile use. The article takes a practice-led stance in exploring what kind of new features this work can add to the nature of opera; the approach is auto-ethnographical, in that the case study is regarded as a source of situated knowledge. Through examination of the different production phases of the mobile opera and by reflecting the work against the framework of multimodal discourse, Omnivore is presented as a prototype for a novel digital opera format.

At the current stage of production, the new potential of the mobile medium has enabled the writing and production processes to become interlaced in a collaborative, non-hierarchical and iterative setting. Mobile technology has allowed the work to become interactive in a personalized and adaptive manner, where the content is adjusted according to rules set in the opera’s media manuscript. On a broader basis, this provides possibilities to create new kinds of intimate opera experiences and also to engage new audiences.

Published in: Sheil, A. & Vear, C. (eds.), 2012. The International Journal of Performance Arts and Digital Media, vol. 8, issue 1. Digital opera: New means and new meanings.


digital opera
mobile opera
practice-led research

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