Go behind the scenes at HKAF’s production of Esa-Pekka Salonen’s Laila

One of the most-anticipated events in this year’s 50th anniversary Hong Kong Arts Festival was to be conductor Esa-Pekka Salonen’s opera, Laila.

A month before Laila was due to premiered before Hong Kong audiences in February, the technical team from Finland were undergoing quarantine in the city, and the first batch of tickets were quickly snapped up by an eager audience. But, unfortunately, the fifth wave of the Covid pandemic caused an unforeseen series of lockdowns, and the premiere had to be cancelled . To keep Laila and Hong Kong audiences connected, the Hong Kong Arts Festival (HKAF) decided to use to time to film everyone involved in the production while the work was in preparation, for use at a later date.

The result is available to view now for free as a film, Laila in Hong Kong, which reveals reveals the process of putting together Laila, and ‘decoding the technologies behind it’.

A co-production of the HKAF and the Finnish National Opera and Ballet (FNOB), Laila is an immersive and interactive opera composed by world-renowned Maestro Esa-Pekka Salonen. It incorporates Artificial Intelligence (AI), Virtual Reality (VR), video-projection mapping, 360 spatial sound and real-time sensors to offer a unique opera experience in the dome-shaped performance space. Laila was the winning project of Opera Beyond 2019, the FNOB’s open call for arts and technology project ideas, and won the prestigious FEDORA Digital Prize in 2020, Europe’s most prominent opera and ballet competition.