“Elizabeth Zharoff, in her first appearance with West Bay Opera, is beautiful and very appealing as the young and pure Marguerite, and stunningly powerful of voice. As Marguerite’s sad story unfolds, she becomes a wretched, pathetic broken rag doll, her madness spilling out over the stage. Brava.” – Mercury News
I’ve had the privilege of working with West Bay Opera for the past 5 weeks on a new production of Gounod’s Faust. Ragnar Conde directs, and Jose Luis Moscovich leads a fantastic (and very nice!) cast.Performances began last weekend at the Lucie Stern Theater in Palo Alto, and will continue this weekend. Tickets can be found at http://www.westbayopera.org.
Faust is one of my favorite operas. I love French opera in general, and Marguerite in particular is an intriguing character, because she goes through such a fast and dramatic change. No other character I’ve played needed to so much careful attention to the emotional progression. She begins totally innocent and vivacious, and then proceeds to fall in love, become pregnant, kill her baby, watch her brother die, and then finally go insane. Roles like Violetta and Lucia have a longer time on-stage to develop each of these states, whereas Marguerite evolves rapidly, with large time lapses between scenes. It is challenging- but ultimately inwardly gratifying- to follow her heart through this opera.
The past month, I’ve worked with programmer Keith Kaisershot and artist Samuel Hum to develop an awe-inspiring VR experience. I combined both composition and vocals into 360° surround sound. I really believe this is one of the most incredible ways to experience being inside a voice.
InnovoxVR is an interactive music/art experience inside virtual reality.
It was created during the 2015 mobile VR jam by opera singer/composer Elizabeth Zharoff, programmer Keith Kaisershot, and artist Samuel Hum.
The user appears inside of a dark sphere, which has 12 surrounding vertices. Each vertex corresponds to a unique vocal track. When all tracks play simultaneously, the user hears one voice weaving into a song. The audio projects from each vertex, so that the user is encompassed, and can experiment with auditory perception.
There is no directional movement inside the experience other than turning the head. To trigger a track on, the user taps once on the Gear VR headset. To trigger the track off, the user taps once more. Thus, the user can select different layers of the track, choosing which to hear. We used Unity 4 to develop the experience.
The art perfectly complements the audio, also flowing once a track is triggered. When a vertex is activated, an image resembling a galaxy spirals outwards. As the music intensity increases, the spiral speed also increases, making the entire sphere seem to pulse faster and brighter. Floating creatures also emerge and float around the user. At the end, the creatures and galaxies all explode with light, as the screen fades to white and the music ends.
I wrote this last week, while working on some music for a independent developer. Was given two main adjectives: sneaky, and quirky. I think it turned out really well. I was looking to combine the feeling of a Tim Burton film with the magic of Harry Potter… and somehow Grieg’s Hall of the Mountain King hopped in too.