Digital Opera


The IX International Cultural Forum, known as the Forum of United Cultures, has commenced in St. Petersburg.

During the forum's first day, a panel session titled «Artificial Intelligence — Threat or Blessing for Culture,» curated by the Presidential Fund for Cultural Initiatives, was held to explore innovations in theatre and the future of education in the cultural sphere. The discussion was moderated by Sergei Emelyanov, the director of the National Drama Theatre of Russia (Alexandrinsky Theatre), and naturally raised the question: is artificial intelligence an adversary or an ally in the realms of theatre and education?

The panel featured several speakers, including Nadezhda Abramova, the general producer of the «Digital Opera» festival in Russia; Ilham Askerov, the director of the Azerbaijan State Academic National Drama Theatre in Azerbaijan; Diana Grbic, the director of the National Theatre of the Republic of Srpska in the Republic of Srpska; Alexander Zhuravsky, the deputy head of the Department of the President of the Russian Federation for public projects in Russia; Kirill Krok, the director of the State Academic Vakhtangov Theatre in Russia; Vladimir Malyshev, the rector of the All-Russian State Institute of Cinematography named after S. A. Gerasimov in Russia; Anton Okoneshnikov, the director of the National Drama Theatre of Russia (Alexandrinsky Theatre) and creator of the digital project «Another Stage» in Russia; Alexander Ryzhinsky, the rector of the Russian Academy of Music named after Gnesins in Russia; and Alexander Shestakov, the general director of the National Academic Theatre named after Yanka Kupala in the Republic of Belarus.

At the panel session, a presentation of the «Digital Opera» project was delivered by the festival's general producer, Nadezhda Abramova. She stated, «The Digital Opera festival consistently integrates new technologies. Participants are provided with the opportunity to utilize various methods of stage representation in their works, including neural networks. Regardless of how advanced artificial intelligence may become, it cannot replace human emotions. Therefore, it serves as a mere tool, an assistant in the hands of an artist, and requires skillful use to achieve a visually stunning image and proficient implementation of the scenographic solution.»

A video essay based on N. A. Rimsky-Korsakov's opera «Snow Maiden» was presented, showcasing the utilization of neural networks in contemporary scenography.

The visually engaging presentation, accompanied by sound and scripted using neural networks, illustrated the evolution of modern scenography from initial sketches to the digital era. It demonstrated the application of digital tools and 3D stage models in modern productions as exemplified in digital opera, and explained the functioning of prompts based on neural networks in the hands of an artist.