Bowers & Wilkins brings opera to life at the V&A

You don't necessarily have to be an opera buff to enjoy the V&A's latest exhibition Opera: Passion, Power and Politics.

It's a multi-sensory experience, combining 400 years of opera history with paintings, historical artefacts (including Mozart's piano), period costumes and a sound experience brought to you via B&W P5 Series 2 headphones.

As you walk around the exhibition - the first to be staged in the V&A's new Sainsbury Gallery - a small iPod-style player connected to the headphones relays famous performances of different operas through the ages as you walk from one section to another.

B&W is no stranger to this kind of experience, having previously worked on Bjørk's 'Digital' multimedia extravanganza at Somerset House last year.

Opera: Passion, Power and Politics is a collaboration between the V&A and the Royal Opera House. It immerses you in key moments of opera, from its roots in Renaissance Italy to contemporary works from the 20th and 21st century. There are seven 'scenes' based around operatic premieres in Venice, London, Vienna, Milan, Paris, Dresden and St Petersburg.

Highlights on display include Salvador Dali's costume designs for Peter Brook's 1949 production of Salome: Music in the Tuileries Gardens to the original score of Verdi's Nabucco from the Archivio Storico Ricordi in Milan.

B&W worked closely with V&A exhibition curator Kate Bailey, the Royal Opera's music director Antonio Pappano and renowned opera director Robert Carsen on the project.

Opera: Passion, Power and Politics runs at the V&A in London until 25th February 2018.


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Simon Lucas is a freelance technology journalist and consultant, with particular emphasis on the audio/video aspects of home entertainment. Before embracing the carefree life of the freelancer, he was editor of What Hi-Fi? – since then, he's written for titles such as GQ, Metro, The Guardian and Stuff, among many others.