Digital opera glasses: Düsseldorf Opera uses augmented reality

The opera glasses are going digital: for the first time, classical music fans can immerse themselves in a digital world with augmented reality glasses (AR) during a performance at the Düsseldorf Opera. The audience can have information about the piece, music and soloists played digitally or take a look into the orchestra pit. The premiere of the pilot project is on Sunday, April 16, at the premiere of the opera “Die tote Stadt” by Erich Wolfgang Korngold. According to the Rheinoper, 30 viewers each can rent the AR glasses at no extra cost for the next six performances. AR glasses are also to be used at the Bayreuth Festival this summer in a “Parsifal” production.

The view through the AR glasses makes a lot possible in the Düsseldorf Opera: viewers can have supertitles in two languages ​​(German and English) played to them. Different camera perspectives allow a look into the orchestra pit. In a few moments, the AR glasses wearers are also surprised by animated AR image worlds.

With the leap into the high-tech age, the opera hopes to attract new audiences who previously had little contact with classical music. “Our digital opera glasses combine live experience and immersive technology to enable new, low-threshold access to the analog world of music theater,” said general manager Christoph Meyer. The pilot project is part of a strategy to facilitate access to opera and ballet through digital offerings.

A team from the opera and the telecommunications provider Vodafone developed the project together. “AR technology digitally expands the action on stage and thus builds a bridge between the digital and the physical world,” said Vodafone innovation chief Michael Reinartz. The basis for such augmented reality applications is the new 5G mobile network, in which data can flow particularly quickly.

Since the project is still in the pilot phase, capacity is currently limited to 30 AR glasses per performance. The glasses are connected to a smartphone. Control is via head movements. The viewers involved decide for themselves which information and images they would like to see displayed.

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Two years after the end of the First World War, the opera “Die tote Stadt” was premiered in Hamburg and Cologne in 1920 and made the then only 23-year-old composer Korngold (1897-1957) famous. In it he showed the painful process of a grieving man. Korngold, who was persecuted by the Nazis, later made a career in the USA with film music in the symphonic “Hollywood sound”.


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