Diggin’ Opera II – Project blog

Music theater by and for young people – made possible by the felicitas and werner egerland foundation

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January 2021 November 25, 2020 Green light for Diggin’ Opera II Who is participating in the project?

The music education project Diggin’ Opera II asks to what extent digital technologies can awaken young people’s enthusiasm for music theater. In addition to the core themes of participation, innovation, and digitalization, Diggin’ Opera II is all about European cooperation. Young people from Germany and Ireland will develop their own music theater production to be performed on the main Festspielhaus stage on April 25, 2021. The project is supported by the felicitas and werner egerland foundation.

February

Over the Carnival holidays, an important decision was made for the Diggin’ Opera II project: it will now be taking place entirely digitally. This means that the students from Offenburg and Limerick will be connecting with each other digitally, and Micha Kaplan and his team of musicians will be simultaneously performing on the Festspielhaus stage.

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The Cyber Bandits are in the process of creating the virtual world in which Diggin’ Opera II will take place. The digital world thus became a highlight of the rehearsal on February 24th, when Rob Doornbos guided the students from Offenburg through the virtual rooms, which are arranged like a school with its different classrooms. Each young actor slips into the role of a so-called avatar an artificial character controlled by a single person similar to a character in a computer game.

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During the rehearsal, the students first had to familiarize themselves with the functions of the avatars. Doornbos compared the situation with a toddler learning to walk: since you only see your own avatar from the first-person perspective, you don’t know whether you have just sat down at the table or not. During the learning process, you have to rely on feedback from others. Simply picking up a pen and writing something in the room works splendidly. Just like throwing castles around all things that you would never do in real life. All the more exciting to try it out in virtual space.

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Nowadays when you're having fun, taking a selfie as a souvenir is a must. And so Rob also had the opportunity to pull out the camera and take a picture in virtual space. With this lesson, the Oken High School students were finally able to explore the virtual space and get an idea of what a performance there could look like.

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While half of the troupe was continually on the move in the virtual space, the other half had the task of producing sounds with their own bodies. In line with the story, composer Micha Kaplan, who was also present live in the meeting, asked the students to invent sounds that matched the mood of Yeats’ poem: somber, frightening, and ominous.

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The decision to completely move the work into digital space also brings changes for composer Micha Kaplan. Students will no longer be able to play together with the musicians in the Festspielhaus. Unfortunately, the virtual connection from their own rooms to the Festspielhaus stage results in time differences that are too great and that make it impossible to make music together. Taking this into account, soundtracks featuring the students' singing will be produced in advance, which will then be mixed with the live music.

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© FSH

January 2021

Face-to-face teaching has been canceled for the time being, but the rehearsals for Diggin’ Opera II in Offenburg and Limerick are still running successfully. The students of the Oken-Gymnasium meet for two school periods every week to work on music theater with their music teacher Rebecca Tüttelmann and drama teacher Rob Doornbos. Everything takes place online in group and individual rooms. Included are choir rehearsals, voice training, and tips for exercises that can be done on one’s own, and at the same time new plot elements for the work are developed.

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© FSH

Elsewhere, too, people are hard at work on Diggin’ Opera II. In Berlin, composer Micha Kaplan is writing the music for the piece and rehearsing it with the musicians. In frequent interchange with the students, the music is thus continually being developed for the April 25 performance. In Limerick, the pupils and their teacher Norma Lowney are focusing on developing a (virtual) stage set: photos, drawings, and painted images are created during the rehearsals, which can later become part of the production.

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© PR FSH

November 25, 2020 Green light for Diggin’ Opera II

Rehearsals for the second stage work of the Diggin’ Opera project officially started today at the Oken-Gymnasium in Offenburg. In exactly six months’ time on April 25, 2021, the participants in the project will be stepping onto the Festspielhaus stage to perform their work.

Who is participating in the project?

At the heart of the project are the students from the Oken-Gymnasium Offenburg with their teacher Rebecca Tüttelmann and the students from the Limerick Educate Together Secondary School with their teacher Norma Lowney. The “CyberRäuber” (Cyper Bandits), consisting of Björn Lengers and Marcel Karnapke, experts and (practical) researchers in the field of virtual reality, are responsible for the artistic direction. As a theater educator and theater director, Rob Doornbos devotes himself to regular work with the students.

Micha Kaplan (composer), Dana Marbach (soprano), Tom Kellner (cello), and Merav Goldman (horn) provide musical support.

Thematic exploration

The thematic basis for the cooperation between the two schools is the poem "The Second Coming" by Irish poet William Butler Yeats.

(…)

Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;

Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,

The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere

The ceremony of innocence is drowned;

The best lack all conviction, while the worst

Are full of passionate intensity.

(…)

At the beginning of the rehearsal process, the text is to serve as inspiration and a common reference point for artistic exploration. What associations do the students have, what ideas does the poem evoke? With this initial impetus, they will develop a story of their own during the rehearsal phase.

Goals

  • musical, pictorial, and dramatic associations from the poem and from one's own points of reference
  • based on this, development of musical motifs, visual motifs in virtual reality, stage solutions, and narration
  • creation of a rough script: development of the stage narrative, scenes, and roles
  • stage set concept, virtual worlds, 3D scans of objects
  • musical concept in collaboration with composer and musicians: motifs, dramaturgy, roles
  • development/design of costumes and VR avatars
Updated: 5/5/2021