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New animations offer fresh take on classic operatic moments  

Playful interpretations of extracts from Die Zauberflöte, Madama Butterfly, Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny and La traviata.

By Lottie Butler (Former Assistant Content Producer (News and Social Media))

9 March 2015 at 4.26pm | Comment on this article

A new series of Opera Shorts is underway, continuing The Royal Opera’s collaboration with Kingston University.

Students from the undergraduate Illustration and Animation course were invited backstage at the Royal Opera House to immerse themselves in opera and find out more about the art form, before creating an animation inspired by one of the productions on stage. The resulting shorts offer a fresh and often playful perspective on opera and the stories it can tell.

Riena Shibahara, Annaliei Sayers and Matthew Brooks created Screen Grab, set to Queen of the Night’s ‘Der Hölle Rache’ in Die Zauberflöte.

Screen Grab uses the idea of social media and online presence as a platform for a personality shift and an outlet for rage’ they explain. ‘The animation reveals the Queen of the Night’s real feelings, which have been disguised under her mask, similar to how online interaction can be very different from face-to-face communication.’

Seohye Lee, May Johananoff and Lucas Santi Pereira Winck’s Surface is also set to the Queen of the Night’s fiery aria:

Surface examines identity using traditional drawn animation’, they explain. ‘How do we feel when we look in the mirror? Do we see ourselves or are we a production of how others see us? This film ponders these questions in a revealing snapshot of life.’

Last year, we published six Opera Shorts, all inspired by moments from La traviata and La bohème. This year, the students have selected moments from a wide range of work, including Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte, Puccini’s Madama Butterfly, and Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill’s Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny.

Eight animations in total will be released on the ROH YouTube Channel over the next few weeks. View our Opera Short playlist to see all of the published animations so far, and those from last year.

Let us know what you think of the films. We’d also be interested in which moments from opera you think would work well as animations.

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