Project of mise-en-scène in virtual reality — by Charlotte Develter and Raphaël Théolade — of the opera Yawar Fiesta.

Yawar Fiesta was realized between 2006 and 2012 at the Métamorphoses d’Orphée studio of Musiques & Recherches in Ohain (Belgium).

Yawar Fiesta is an electro-acoustic opera composed by Annette Vande Gorne from a libretto by Werner Lambersy. It is based on a traditional ritual that indigenous people hold in the Peruvian Andes, which is related to their encounter with Spanish colonisers. ‘Yawar Fiesta’—which means ‘Blood Festival’ in Quechua—pits a condor captured in the mountains by the natives against a bull raised by the villagers in the European tradition. Throughout time, this ceremony has come to commemorate Peru's independence. Werner Lambersy, a French-speaking Flemish poet, chose to symbolise the human existential, spiritual, social, and political struggles with this traditional rite.

We are Charlotte Develter and Raphaël Théolade. Working in 3D animation and painting, we are enthralled by the notion of illusory space—by its unavoidable presence within the human imagination—as well as by naive and absurd attempts to present and represent fictional planes in which one may project oneself. These concerns have prompted us to merge our disciplines, conceiving animation as a vessel which allows for an immersive journey, through animated pictorial layers, beyond the traditional framework of painting.

We understand painting as a plane that is constructed but also momentary, bearing a capture of an imaginary universe that spreads itself beyond the canvas, a door towards the invisible. This understanding has guided the development of this project, which aims to elaborate a journey in the alterity of the microcosm suggested by the limits of the painted surface, extending its possibility of projection in a film in virtual reality.

The recent challenges to filmmaking posed by virtual reality have been the driving force behind our commitment to this project, raising a series of questions regarding the reasons why and the various ways in which space may be represented between utopia and heterotopia (see Des espaces autres by Michel Foucault) or a mise en abyme within a theatre, as well as a reflection on the corresponding consequences to our perception of imagination.

We met Annette Vande Gorne in 2016, during a musique concrète workshop in her Musique & Recherches centre in Belgium. Soon after, we started a discussion on her opera Yawar Fiesta, weaving links around the similarities and parallels of the creative processes (music, film and painting) and the intentions through which they operate.