You may remember Minecraft as the video game that captivates the minds of children across the country, one that’s built in 16-bit and looks fairly crude thanks to its digital Lego-like look. The goal of the game is simplistic: build your own structures in a world where your mind takes over. You kill a couple of zombies along the way if you’re in “survival mode,” but otherwise it’s just an explorative tool, an outlet for creativity and even collaboration. Which is why when Virginia Tech announced its plans to create an opera acted out by Minecraft avatars, well the idea didn’t seem completely outrageous.
We live in a time where the intersection of art and technology is almost natural. It’s a partnership that makes sense thanks to the evolving transformation of video games and the broad definition of what art is to the human eye. Video games are now being displayed at major art exhibitions, receiving Grammy nominations normally reserved for the Lana Del Reys, and will soon be making a name for themselves on the opera stage thanks to Ariana Wyatt. An assistant professor of voice at Virginia Tech, her love of opera fueled one awesome, innovative project.
Under the direction of Wyatt, Virginia Tech’s music department recruited eight various high school students to develop a Minecraft set for an opera that’s due to debut this December. The students “are building a massive set for ‘OperaCraft’ in the sandbox building game,” according to The Washington Post, and “will use their Minecraft avatars to act out the opera’s major roles.” Students from the school’s music department will lend their voices for the opera that will feature music by Mozart.
The project which was initially just a figment of Wyatt’s imagination has rapidly transformed into a cross-departmental initiative, tying in the English department, Institute for Creativity, Art, and Technology, as well as the music department of course. Those well-versed in computer science and technology were also called upon to help make the Minecraft avatars more animated.
“We at least want their mouths to move,” Wyatt explained, which would make sense for an opera. “We have a team of computer scientists and music technology people who are working to retrofit Minecraft a little for some facial control…and to allow for them to have a little more body movement.”
As for what the opera will be about, that’s still up in the air. Wyatt remains tight-lipped about her futuristic performance, only willing to say that it’s “very teenage boy, very post-apocalyptic.”