A Vixen’s Tale with Augmented Reality

A Vixen’s Tale blends opera and Augmented Reality for immersive storytelling


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Arcade's innovative project, A Vixen’s Tale, brings augmented reality (AR) to the opera, creating a mixed physical and digital experience designed to captivate both new and seasoned opera-goers. Commissioned by the Welsh National Opera (WNO), this immersive storytelling adventure launched at WNO’s Explore Opera Day on October 5th at the Wales Millennium Centre in Cardiff.

A Vixen’s Tale integrates digital innovation with traditional theatre, offering a playful yet profound approach to immersive storytelling. The experience is based on Leoš Janáček’s iconic opera, The Cunning Little Vixen. Using iPhone XR devices paired with stylized Bluetooth headphones, visitors are guided to ‘follow the vixen’ through a series of gamified vignettes. Each vignette unlocks a different part of the story, enhancing the narrative with interactive elements.

The experience is set across five beautifully crafted wooden arches that symbolize the passing of time and the emotional journey of the vixen. These arches are not just visually striking but also equipped with embedded speakers, creating an engaging and intriguing setup for passers-by. The combination of music, theatre, and AR technology offers a multi-layered experience that appeals to various audience segments.

Casual visitors can engage with fun AR Snapchat lenses, bringing them closer to the vixen's story. Those who delve deeper are rewarded with a fully immersive visual and audio experience, journeying through the arches alongside the vixen while listening to impressive WNO opera recordings. The installation thus provides a rich, sensory experience that combines the best of digital and physical storytelling.

A Vixen’s Tale debuted to the public at the Wales Millennium Centre on October 5th and ran until the end of the month. During this period, it attracted 5,939 recorded visitors, with over 80% of groups including younger audiences, a significant success metric for WNO. The project's ability to draw in a younger demographic highlights its effectiveness in making opera more accessible and appealing to new generations.

The project has been recognized for its innovative approach, being shortlisted for several awards, including the VR Days Halo Awards, Virtuality: XR Awards, and Creative Review. Plans are underway for A Vixen’s Tale to tour nationally and internationally in 2020, expanding its reach and continuing to bridge the gap between traditional opera and cutting-edge technology.

In summary, A Vixen’s Tale exemplifies how AR can be seamlessly integrated with traditional art forms to create engaging and immersive experiences. By blending music, theatre, and digital innovation, it offers a new way to experience opera, making it more accessible and enjoyable for diverse audiences.

Rrahul Sethi
June 24, 2024
5 min read