OPERAcraft, an original opera created at Virginia Tech University by university and high school students, will debut this week with a live performance including a livestream of the full show.
Minecraft has been put to all sorts of educational uses, from teaching first and second grade students about creativity and collaboration to holding class virtually when Australian Bond University was flooded by Tropical Cyclone Oswald. This week, a team of 30 students, performers, and instructors from Virginia Tech University are opening the curtains on an original opera, performed in Minecraft.
Work on OPERAcraft began in March at Virginia Tech. The opera uses music borrowed from Mozart, but the eight high school students participating in the project wrote an original story and libretto. The high school students control a cast of Minecraft characters, acting on a virtual set built in the sandbox game. A custom piece of technology matches the mouths of Minecraft avatars to the voices of Virginia Tech music majors. Ariana Wyatt, assistant professor of voice at Virginia Tech and the director of the opera, told Polygon why she chose Minecraft as the vehicle for the opera. “I wanted to create something that they were able to do,” says Wyatt. “I didn’t want it to be something where you had to have particular skills, like carpentry or music. I thought there had to be a way to produce a set virtually, and then Minecraft proved to be the best vehicle.”
The live performance of the opera will be held in the ICAT Cube space at the Center for the Arts, a four-story high-tech theater where the video of the opera will be projected on a 42-foot-by-26-foot screen. The live music will be provided by a piano on stage, while the singers will stand on the second and third tiers of the cube. The high school students controlling the Minecraft characters will be seated in front of the screen. Two performances are being held, both of which will be available on Livestream. The first performance is Wednesday, December 4 at 7:30 p.m. ET, and the second performance will be Saturday, December 7 at 2 p.m. E.T. Break a leg, Steve.