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  3. Around the world and back again – after celebrated opera productions with Chinese director Chen Shi-Zheng in Berlin and San Francisco, the tried and tested creative team headed east for another immersive multimedia spectacle. Supplemented and enhanced by flora&faunavisions' video content produced especially for the occasion, Shi-Zheng's version of Giuseppe Verdi's tragic tale of love and loss, La Traviata, premiered in the Lithuanian capital of Vilnius on May 8th, 2009.

    Set against the stunning backdrop of tailored ffv content – and in time for Vilnius’ new status as European Capital of Culture 2009 – the operatic classic enjoyed a comprehensive overhaul. As part of the update, the director and flora&faunavisions defined a concise visual language that would reflect the production's edgy costumes, lighting and set design.

    Here, the flower and tree of the camellia, a plant that only blooms in winter, symbolise the cycle of blossoming love and bloody betrayal, from unfurling petal to rotting roots. Accompanied by the topical themes of consumption, opulence and vulgarity, spinning in a dizzying fairground of bustle and colour, Shi-Zheng's multimedia visions are framed by ffv's large-scale projections, screened onto a wide variety of backdrops and surfaces: from outsized rear projection spanning the entire back wall to structured partitions covered in layers of transparent fabric and a floor projection synched to the rear projection theme.

    One of the undisputed highlights of the opera season, the production received a standing ovation and cemented the creative partnership between Chen Shi-Zheng and flora&faunavisions.

    c) flora&faunavisions, 2010 (florafaunavisions.de)

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  4. Directed by Christine Marie
    The standout gig of the evening was "The Rootabaga Opera," a musical-theatrical thrill ride through the Bay Area's American, Chinese, and Eastern European cultural roots, inspired by the children's stories of poet Carl Sandburg. The piece was done up in style with a massive cast of singers (including the luminescent Kitka), dancers, musicians, puppeteers, and performance artists. Blasts of fire punctuated the entertaining storyline, which had something to do with Newsies, trains, and an adorable goat and goose, though it was impossible to follow the narrative in the chaos of the multisensory overload. Of course, this didn't matter as the soundtrack entranced, moving deftly from country hoedown to uptown jazz to Tom Waits-like carnival antics, Brechtian drama, haunting folksong, and so on.

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  5. The audience plays as the performer in the dark room with a beam of dim light. One hides his face behind the mechanical gear wheels, wires and controllable parts in the dark and transforms his expression into a huge make-up mask in the frisky air. And so the mirror which called (Oriental) Opera is demonstrating her speech in silence. The image is planted in the remote air and dust and is already transformed as seen to be a long-dead bony gifted young man who sings in his melodic dream.

    The audience may place his head into the installed position and seeing a huge face appears in the air. The facial expression which is formed by a set of mechanism, changes with the audience like a giant mirror only seen by his own. Such interaction takes place in a sealed room so the audience is free to make up any facial expression to be playful with the projection.

    The inspiration and style of these mechanic facial expressions come from Chinese Opera (Pingju). When the audience opens his mouth, the mouth of mechanic face opens its mouth too and randomly plays the selected tunes of Pingju. The shape of audience's mouth will affect the pitch and volume of the tunes. The installation allows the audience being the only solo performer on this tremendous stage.

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Xiang Dan Huang

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