The Royal Opera to Present New Works in Digital ‘8bit’ Series

By Logan Martell

On April 30, 2021, The Royal Opera House, Covent Garden will present “8bit,” a series of eight new commissioned works, featuring innovative contemporary artists.

The series will be made up of six short films, one audio performance, and a web browser experiment, which will present well-known works in new ways, alongside the new, short works.

First in the suggested sequence of works is “Among The Flowers,” composed by Matt Huxley, directed by Patrick Eakin Young, libretto by Samuel Kentridge, and performed by Lucy Goddard. Described as an “Instagram opera,” the work seeks to explore the digital landscape as a means of remaining connected.

Next is “Heal You,” composed by Anna Meredith, with video by Grant Gee, and performed by Juice Vocal Ensemble. The work celebrates the rollout of Covid vaccinations, and the part played by women.

Following this is “OVER/UNDER GROUND,” created by Andre de Ridder, Ramin Aryaie, and Katherine Manley, who is also the soprano soloist, performing with dancer Miriam Arnold. Manley will be followed by a single camera as she performs in public spaces through Berlin.

Next is “All Together Alone,” created by Anna Morrissey, and composed by Ben and Max Ringham after Alfredo Catalani. It will be sung by Jette Parker Young Artist Masabane Cecilia Rangwanasha, with members of The Royal Ballet including Joshua Junker, Calvin Richardson, Francisco Serrano, Hannah Grennell, and Nadia Mullova-Barley.

Exploring themes of immigration, identity, and language is “Echoes at the gate,” a film by multidisciplinary designer Akhila Krishnan, which will feature “Akh! Istomilas ya gorem” from Tchaikovsky’s “The Queen of Spades.”

In her ROH debut, violinist and music director Rakhi Sing has made a video titled “FFAALL,” which features three pieces of music by Sing, Seb Gainsborough, and Nicola Matteis. The film was shot in different spaces at the ROH during the lockdown and features Salford-based artist Blackhaine.

The audio performance, “Our Dark Side and The Moon: a night-time duet,” is a meditative guided listening created by composer John Barber and director Elayce Esmail, with vocals by Nazan Fikret.

Finally, creative production company Dumbworld has created an interactive opera experience titled “Fatal System Error,” composed by Brian Irvine, and performed by Alexandra Lowe and The Orchestra of the Royal Opera House.

At a time when it is so hard to work together in the same place, let alone the same time, we have been forced to adapt and work in different ways,” says ROH Director Oliver Mears. “’8bit’ links material that spans platforms and genres in an audio and visual moment of fabulous variety and eclecticism – challenging the stereotypes associated with opera.”

The series will be available to stream for free across The Royal Opera’s social media pages.