3 July 2018

German opera uses microscope images from CFIM


Microscope images of blood vessels, hair cells and pollen grains, taken at the Core Facility for Integrated Microscopy at BMI, are being used as stage design in a well-reviewed opera in Germany. The artistic director of the Royal Danish Opera plans to visit.

From the opera Vespertine
A microscope image of a pollen grain illuminates the stage in the opera 'Vespertine'. Photo: Hotel Pro Forma

In collaboration with the international production house Hotel Pro Forma, the Core Facility for Integrated Microscopy (CFIM), which is part of BMI, has used microscopes to take images of the “inner universe” of the human body. The images set the scenes for the opera ‘Vespertine’ at the National Theater Mannheim in Germany.

"You can imagine that we as scientists are the astronauts of the inner universe. We explore how everything in the body works and how it looks. We usually look at images like these from a scientific perspective, but of course we also appreciate them because they are beautiful", says Clara Prats, Head of Light Microscopy at the Core Facility for Integrated Microscopy about the collaboration. The opera uses beautiful and colourful microscope photos and reconstructed videos of various types of cells and biological material – for example a human lung, a hair cell, a pollen grain and a blood vessel from the brain of a mouse.

Visual Poem about Cells
’Vespertine’ is inspired by Björk’s album with the same title, and the microscope photos act as a visual poem about cells, transformation and frequencies.
Since the premiere on 26 May, the opera has received positive reviews of which most mention the biological images. Artistic Director of the Royal Danish Opera in Copenhagen John Fulljames plans to visit the opera on 5 July, possibly with a view of bringing it to Denmark.
When it is not busy producing scientific works of art on microscope level, the core facility offers researchers access to advanced electron and light microscopes. In addition, the core facility offers support and training in using the microscopes.

Read more about the performance on the Hotel Pro Forma website.​