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Tuesday, May 30, 2023

For or against? What clues does ‘Mozart Immersive’ hold about the future of entertainment? – Chicago Tribune

We live in an “experience culture”.

That’s what David Barbour said.he is the editor “American Lighting and Sound” The monthly magazine for the entertainment technology industry. Barbour sees no better example of this culture than the multi-projection exhibits, and price experience menus at our Forever theme park “Immersive Van Gogh,” One of the many Van Gogh sights now playing around the world. Viewers pay to swim in a sea of ​​digital projections and accustomed to still swirling images of famous paintings.

“Immersive Van Gogh” recently wrapped up a two-year run at Chicago’s meticulously renovated and reconfigured Germania Club building, built in 1889 in Old Town. More than 650,000 people paid to see the exhibition. Now we have the follow-up, also presented by Beacon Art Space Chicago: “Mozart Immersed: The Soul of a Genius,” billed as a “celebration of classical music” and an exploration of the “mind,” “soul,” and genius born Composer in Salzburg.

The idea this time: music first, visuals second, though it’s a toss-up. Chronologically, creator Massimiliano Siccardi’s latest creation begins with a dreamy prologue to the soundtrack to a Mozart theme floating in a dreamy high-end massage soundscape. We see artifacts from a mischievous genius’s childhood on the 35-foot walls surrounding the gallery’s largest room: a slingshot, a soap bubble that resembles a Pandora-like life form, a puppet that hops through the air.

Through his life and surroundings, “Mozart Is Here” portrays the composer as a gifted teenage marionette struggling to escape the expectations of court life, the shadow of his father Leopold and his own death. His “Don Giovanni”, “The Magic Flute” and other greatest songs filled the room. As guest star, Mikhail Baryshnikov makes a wordless cameo as a brooding Leopold, who is seen walking as if in a digital trance, surrounded by candles .

charming? memorable? Well… it’s certainly worth a look to hear excerpts from “The Marriage of Figaro” and other gems in a recorded interpretation performed by a 45-piece orchestra conducted by Constantine Orbelian. While decades of experimentation and mainstream theatrical performances have given me some wonderfully cutting-edge visual spectacle, this is the first time I’ve been drawn to something immersive from a current trend, turning on a painting by Kahlo or Klimt, or here, Mozart An hour (or less) bath of aural and visual imagery of music that gives people a warm feeling.

Cheesy or transporty, the trend points to something in the current culture. Barbour said it had to do with “the urgent need to break out of everyday life right now.”

The following interview with Barbour has been edited for length and clarity.

Q: David, we’ve come a long way. We’ve seen generations of plays use varying degrees of digital image, video and photographic projection, many of which are brilliant and very compelling. Attractions like “Immersive Mozart” or Monet or Klimt are a whole different beast. What do you think they portend about audience expectations?

A: Let me start by saying that the development of projection technology is probably the most important thing in live event design in my roughly 700 years in the business (laughs). I think it’s great – when it’s used as a tool. It’s really useful in theater for a variety of reasons. Operas and even symphony orchestras use it to create visual accompaniments to music. All of these are great.

I’m not so happy when design becomes experience. I think it’s indicative of a larger trend in American culture to be a little bit sad. That’s the culture of experience, which is that unless something is a huge, legendary event that gets you carried away, it’s not that good.

There is a book called “The Experience Economy”, which I haven’t read, but it has had a huge impact on the minds of many people working in the event industry.

Somehow, we’ve reached a point where it’s not enough to just look at a beautiful painting by Van Gogh or Monet and think about it. Now it must overwhelm you.you must be taken Enter it. It’s kind of an extension of something in our culture where everything is entertainment — shopping, church, everything. This may indicate a lack of imagination in our culture today, that seeing something beautiful and thinking about it is no longer enough.

Q: I was wondering how we consume images so much these days. The “immersive” angle–I really need to find a synonym for that word, because I’m starting to hate it–is not new to cinema. When you, David, see something as visibly immersive (sorry) as “Avatar” in 3D, what do you get out of it?

A: Nothing, I’m afraid (laughs).To me, the Avatar movie looks like the work of Thomas Kinkade, who claims to be official Painter of Light. I think what’s going on in the movie can be looked at as a separate issue. but it is not the truth. We live in a world where multiplexes are home to James Cameron, Marvel movies, and a few other attractions, and of course, movies that might be designed for adult audiences are now more likely to be on Amazon or Netflix.

In the theater, this idea of ​​immersive technology is a bit like kitten’s feet. It started playing on Broadway around 1990, a lot of it from (projection designer) Wendall Harrington. She’s always been clear that the projection should be used as a secondary tool, contributing to whatever atmosphere the director wants to create. Now, though, everyone is starting to think that immersive projection is a quick and easy way to create spectacular designs. The projections start to get so bulky and consuming, the actors get lost.

Q: These are apples and oranges, but: if attractions like Van Gogh or Mozart immersions continue to be popular — if you have to find a way to immerse audiences in the pool of digital experiences, where do we go from here?

a well. I think[attractions like Immersive Mozart]are part of an ongoing attempt to reach an audience that wouldn’t normally go to the Met or the Art Institute of Chicago. I don’t like making predictions, but I have to say, I’m not worried about theaters. Broadway is going to be what Broadway is, in a weird way right now. But young people who are making dramas are now attracted to it because they are tired of digital culture. The actual on-site interaction is something to do for them. This is much more novel to them than it is to us!

I don’t think the gigantism trend will stop anytime soon. This may have something to do with the device being connected to us all the time. We want to get rid of ourselves.

part of the immersive experience, "Mozart Immersive: The Soul of a Genius,

Q: Is “immersion” becoming synonymous with other things? something bigger?

A: I take this to mean: We now have a great need to get out of our daily routines. This is a feature of our culture. I don’t mean to dismiss the spectacle. Vegas will always be there. I love big musicals as much as anyone else. But “being there” has become the standard for a superior experience.

I really do not understand.

“Immersive Mozart: The Soul of a Genius” continues at the Beacon Art Space in Chicago, 108 W. Germania Place, Germania Club; $48.97 mozartimmersive.com

Michael Phillips is a Tribune critic.


Twitter @phillipstribune

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