Tristan und Isolde in Second Life

Tristan und Isolde
Tristan und Isolde

Opening at 13:30 SLT on Wednesday, July 15th at ItalianVerse, is Giovanna Cerise’s latest installation, Tristan und Isolde. Based on Richard Wagner’s 3-act opera of the same name, the installation is, like the opera itself, a remarkable piece.

Premièred in 1865, after a difficult gestation, Tristan und Isolde is acknowledged as one of the peaks of the operatic repertoire, and one of the most influential works in the development of western romantic music, providing direct inspiration to the likes of Gustav Mahler, Richard Strauss and Benjamin Britten, as well as spurring composers such a Claude Debussy, Maurice Ravel and Igor Stravinsky to develop their styles of romantic music as a sharp and lasting contrast to Wagner’s more tonal approach.

The core of the story is based on a medieval love story, that of the titular Tristan, a knight of Cornwall, loyal to King Mark(e), and Isolde, an Irish Princess. It is a story of murder, love, betrayal and forgiveness played out on three sets, all of which are reproduced in Giovanna’s remarkable installation.

Tristan und Isolde
Tristan und Isolde

The arrival point, which might be said to be fashioned after the foyer of an opera house, is filled with images of Wagner, Mathilde Wesendonck (with whom Wagner was infatuated at the time Tristan und Isolde was written), promotional images from and 1859 production, and elements of the musical score, gives a hint of what is in store for the visitor.

From here, stairs ascend upwards, leading one to a balcony overlooking the opera’s first act: the ship commanded by Tristan that is bringing Isolde, somewhat by force, from Ireland to Cornwall, where she is to be married to Tristan’s uncle, King Mark(e). On and over the deck of the ship we see symbols representing the unfolding drama.

Tristan und Isolde
Tristan und Isolde

Above it sits a net about to enclose two pairs of hands coming together in a clasp, indicating both the love between Tristan and Isolde (itself not entirely the product of the potion they both unwittingly drink) and the events that are enfolding them. Then there is the little box of potions – poison and love – which play pivotal roles in the unfolding story.

Finally, lying on the deck and almost transparent, is a sword – a symbol of so much within the tale: Tristan’s role as a knight loyal to his king; his murder of Isolde’s fiancé, and the fact that Isolde once held Tristan’s own life at the point of his own sword, only to spare his life out of her own growing love for him, the result of having saved him from his own mortal wound prior to realising he was the one responsible for her fiancé’s death.

Tristan und Isolde
Tristan und Isolde

More stairs lead the way upwards to the scene of the second act. Here we find a tree, representing the night-time hunt led by King Mark(e), now wedded to Isolde, which departs the kings hall and leaves the two lovers free to meet. The figures with the net are clearly Tristan and Isolde, their pose reminiscent of the one used in the 1859 promotional material seen in the foyer.

Then there is the net itself; symbolic of so much: the love that binds Tristan and Isolde together; the way in which that love will betray them before the king; the truth behind Tristan’s declaration that only in the long night of death will they ever be truly united; and even Melot’s growing suspicions about the two of them, which also plays a role in their fate.

And so it is that the stairs bring use to a final set of balconies, these again lined by silhouettes of knights, as with the last, once again suggesting a courtly environment. But this is not representative of King Mark(e)’s halls; rather it represents Tristan’s own castle in Brittany. Here the final act is played out; one involving death, forgiveness and ascension, all of which is again beautifully encapsulated in the set of figures rising into he air over a dark shroud.

Tristan und Isolde
Tristan und Isolde

Opera is often said to be drama on a grand scale, and Giovanna’s installation is very much a reflection of this. It captures an influential piece of opera in the most beautiful and dramatic of ways, a magnificent reflection of Wagner’s work, exquisite in its detail and tone, right down to the selected windlight and the incorporation of musical spheres containing extracts from the opera itself (don’t have the local audio stream running when visiting!).

Truly an installation not to be missed.

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Second Life project updates 29/1: server, viewer, general items

Indie Teepee: July 10th through 24th, 2015 - blog post
Indie Teepee: July 10th through 24th, 2015 – blog post

Server Deployments Week #29

As always, please refer to the server deployment thread for the latest updates / news.

  • There was no Main (SLS) channel deployment on Tuesday, July 14th.
  • On Wednesday, July 15th all three RC channels should receive the same server maintenance package, comprising internal simulator fixes.

There were some issues with poor region performance following the week #28 Main channel deployment (see BUG-9647), but the majority of these appear to have been corrected with a region restart.

SL Viewer

On Tuesday, July 14th, the attachment fixes viewer (project Big Bird) was promoted to the de facto release viewer. Version 3.8.1.303130 has fixes for some attachment-related issues, particularly when multiple attachments are added or removed at the same time. Allegedly, no birds were harmed during the making of this viewer, although a parrot may have bitten an engineer’s finger…

Region Performance

Simon Linden: considering matters of region performance
Simon Linden: considering matters of region performance

While things may appear to be quiet in terms of new deployments, etc., the Lab are working on Second Life in a number of areas. One of these is in finding ways to improve region performance – such as through finding the means for a region to support more avatars, something Simon Linden was recently looking into.

During the Simulator user group meeting on July 14th, Simon indicated he was also looking at the abilities provided to region owners which might allow them to better specify what can and cannot be done within their regions in turns of things like object rezzing. in order to improve people’s experiences. “I’m looking at the balances we keep on regions between being permissive and locked down, and how that relates to the land usage,” he said during the meeting, before continuing:

So combat regions want fast and free rezzing, but that’s not appropriate for a music venue … venues don’t want free rezzing of objects, so someone can’t drop their griefer bombs. The big fuzzy goal is to make SL better.   More specifically, it’s to make different types of regions run better. For example, there’s a bug now where rezzing can get backed up and delayed.   This is really bad for combat rezzing arrows or whatever projectile. Part of the reason that happens is throttles and limits on rezzing … So maybe we should be able to set up combat region settings tweaked for that kind of performance, and an event venue might be tweaked to handle crowds best, and really lock down free rezzing and object entry. 

This sparked a discussion on a range of performance issues and cases, including issues such as BUG-8974 and BUG-8946, as well as matters such as the inefficiencies evident in the asset handling system in general (this has also come into sharper focus with the arrival of Experiences, where KVP operations are handled by the same thread as asset handling), and the issues of agent script usage (script management doesn’t balance out and prevent someone from using far more than their share of script time). Ironically, during the meeting, a demonstration of this problem was given with the arrival of a griefer loaded with  >9999 scripts – with the result that the region crashed.

Simon emphasised the discussion was just that – a discussion intended to explore ideas and options, rather than any firm commitment on his or the Lab’s part to make changes. With this in mind, some of the suggestions put forward were:

  • Land owner resource control for both rezzing and scripts for all region types (see BUG-3854)
  • An option to block rezzing an object over a certain draw weight to help stop people being able to rez graphics crashers
  • Possibly altering settings on mainland so that when purchased, it is not completely permissive and the new owner failing to understand what that can mean
  • A re-submission of BUG-2467 as a feature request, amended to “visible attachments”, so the Lab might re-evaluate the idea
  • The Lab to reconsider requests such as BUG-4153 and BUG-4182.

One of the problems here is that there are a lot of settings which might be exposed in order to help land holders better protect / optimise their land, such that it could become a complex issue in user understanding if too many controls are made available. However, it will be interesting to see what might transpire in the future as the Lab continued to consider options.

Other Items

Receipt of illegitimate L$ and Account Locking

An old issue of individual harassment has started to re-surface in Second Life of late, which can lead to people’s accounts being locked. With it, someone pays another avatar in-world using fraudulently created Linden Dollars. This results in an automatic account lock being applied, and the recipient, even though they are an innocent party, finds they are unable to use the account while investigations proceed.

The problem here is that there is currently no way to prevent the receipt of any L$ payment; not even blocking an avatar can prevent them from making a payment to you.

As a result of the recent increase in this problem occurring (there have been numerous reports to the Lab’s support team on the matter), a request has been made for the Lab to consider adding an “accept” button for all incoming payments. This would allow people to review all such unsolicited incoming payments ahead of accepting them, allowing them to judge whether the payment is valid or not.