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The Finnish National Opera’s Laila wins the international FEDORA Digital Prize

The Finnish National Opera’s Laila has won the international FEDORA Digital Prize. The winner of the €50,000 prize was announced on 18 November. Other contenders on the shortlist included prestigious names such as London’s Royal Opera House and Turin’s Teatro Regio.

FEDORA prizes are given to European artists and cultural institutions who collaborate on the creation of new opera or ballet productions to reach out to wider audiences. This year, FEDORA issued four prizes: the FEDORA Opera Prize, the FEDORA – VAN CLEEF & ARPELS Prize for Ballet, the FEDORA Education Prize, and, for the first time, the FEDORA Digital Prize.

The FEDORA Digital Prize encourages artistic innovation in opera and ballet, particularly through digital experimentation. In addition to this, it advocates new ways of interacting with audiences via digital tools.

The jury comprised of leading influencers in the fields of technology, art and media, including Kent Nagano. Peter Maniura, Director of IMZ Academy and chair of the FEDORA Digital Prize, explains the key criteria for selecting the winner: “A project of this quality and vision is critical for showing new paths for opera in our very challenging times, and Laila to me is a sign of hope, inspiration and quality.”

Laila made the shortlist for the FEDORA Digital Prize along with three prestigious international companies. The companies, chosen from fifteen contenders, were London’s Royal Opera House with Munkination – A Second Chance and Sadler’s Wells Theatre with REBOOT, and Turin’s Teatro Regio with Stream&Music.

”It’s a great honour to receive recognition of such international prestige for Laila and our efforts to leverage the multiple opportunities of digital tools in opera and ballet. This also encourages us to carry on with our broader OperaBeyond research venture. Making the most of new technologies is currently on the agenda of every opera company. Finland, as a country, has built a strong reputation as a technological leader. As an international arts institution, we want to develop technical innovations to broaden our audience base and create memorable experiences,” says Lilli Paasikivi, the Artistic Director of the Finnish National Opera.

Laila, by Esa-Pekka Salonen, Paula Vesala, Tuomas Norvio and Ekho Collective had its world premiere in the Almi Hall of the Finnish National Opera in August 2020. The interactive performance rejects traditional roles, as its music and visuality change in interaction with the audience. Laila was an immediate success and its sold-out performances enthralled both the audience and the media.

Laila is part of the Finnish National Opera and Ballet’s Opera Beyond project launched in 2018. The project, which continues for several years, aims to enhance performing arts experiences and to make the most of new technologies in opera and ballet.