The orchestra is often the most problematic element of an opera production. The commitment in time and money is typically beyond the resources of smaller companies. The common alternative is a small instrumental ensemble or a simple piano accompaniment.
These are clearly inadequate substitutes for the vibrant
harmonies of the full orchestra, and the time is ripe to
tackle the problem by utilising the most recent
developments in music technology. The use of electronic
enhancement is not new and is used extensively in popular
music and in the recording industry where “real time”
musical demands are less stringent. Live opera requires a
far more sophisticated treatment in terms of dynamic and
rhythmic structure which, until recently, were beyond the
capacity of available technology.
The Virtual Reality Orchestra is a computer-generated
instrument, where authentic, “sampled” sounds of the live
orchestra are triggered by the computer. In performance, a
single musician is sufficient to operate the system, and
its simplicity and versatility allow it to be employed in
virtually any venue. It has the capability to follow
variations in dynamics and tempo, enabling it to accompany
without difficulty. This ability to accompany is perhaps
its most unique feature.