Students’ eerie animations featured in Gothic opera

2D art of a crumbling castle with eyes in the walls and pillars

Article by: David Millett

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Ravensbourne BA (Hons) Animation and BA (Hons) Games Development students have joined forces with the Gothic Opera company to create a haunting extravaganza that whisks viewers away on a journey ‘through fantasies and nightmares’.

Directed by Julia Mintzer, the show runs from Thursday 8 July to Saturday 10 July 2021 at Porchester Hall in London, showing each day at 8.00pm in front of a socially-distanced audience.

Poster for Bluebeard's Castle detailing cast and dates

The multi-disciplinary production of Bartók's unique opera, Bluebeard’s Castle, combines live performance with 2D and 3D animations created by Ravensbourne students, which are used to set the scene of the grisly and wondrous rooms of the eponymous castle. This production is designed to be a feast for the senses, featuring evocative sound design, digital animation and dance, all combining to welcome people back to the thrill of live performance.

The opera stars bass singer Simon Wilding as Bluebeard and soprano Alexandra Long as his fourth wife, Judith. The story opens as Judith arrives at his dark and foreboding castle for the first time. Despite her new husband’s protests, she insists on opening all of the doors to allow light into its many rooms. As she ventures deeper and deeper through the bloodstained walls of the castle, she starts to unravel more and more of his tortured soul.

The show features animations created by our students Klaudia Grabczak, Tony Tyler, Vincent Sautter, and Virginia Anyaele. Oliver O’Keeffe, freelance illustrator and coordinator for our Games and Animation with Year 0 courses, also worked on animations for the show.

Dev Bye-A-Jee, senior lecturer on Ravensbourne’s Animation and Games courses, coordinated the students on the project.

A performer in the dark castle stretches his hands up in front of a suit of armour

He said: “When we were first approached with the idea of mixing digital animation and opera, I honestly had no idea what to expect. Being from a mainstream commercial animation and games focus, the idea was bonkers, it was ridiculous - and we loved it!

“Personally, the lecturers and the students have learnt a lot from the Gothic Opera team. The students’ unique and diverse voices and stylings very much come across in the animations, ranging from 2D, 3D software, mixed media approaches. I hope everyone enjoys the show as much as we have enjoyed contributing to it.”

Director Julia Mintzer said: “The rooms inside Bluebeard's Castle exist only within the protagonist's imagination, so we wanted to use digital animations to create a visual world unlimited by reality.

“We went through so many different incarnations: the pre-pandemic plan was to create a digital set that would be 3D mapped onto our venue, but when the venue closed, we took the opportunity to move the animations centre stage, giving the artists the chance to include not just atmosphere, but also narrative.”

Ravensbourne students qualify for an exclusive £5 discount code when ordering tickets. Contact us via email or social media for details.

Tickets are available online now.

2D art of a crumbling castle with eyes in the walls and pillars