Picture: Deutsche Oper am Rhein / Lukas Loss
AR headsets functioning as digital opera glasses will soon make their debut at the Deutsche Oper am Rhein. This is what visitors can expect.
Use cases for AR and VR are various. Creative minds constantly develop new applications in culture. Tea Deutsche Oper am Rhein (German Opera on the Rhein), in collaboration with Vodafone, is trying out a pilot project: an opera performance enhanced by augmented reality. In the new production of “Die tote Stadt” (The Dead City) by Erich Wolfgang Korngold, 30 audience members experience the performance through AR headsets.
The visual aid, which the management calls “digital opera glasses,” displays additional digital information during the performance. This includes background information, bilingual subtitles, and different camera views. A 5G network displays the content in real time.
Opera groups want to reach new audiences with AR
As Prof. Christoph Meyer, General Director of the Deutsche Oper am Rhein, explains, the focus is on the idea of communication:
“Our digital opera glass combines live experience and immersive technology to provide new, low-threshold access to the analog world of musical theater. The work on the prototype is part of our strategy to facilitate access to opera and ballet through digital offerings. And it is intended at the same time to provide an impetus for the general debate about forms of addressing a new audience in the digital age.”
The augmented reality premiere will take place on April 16. A total of six performances are planned. Advance tickets for AR seats go on sale on March 10. There is no cover charge. The opera house asks spectacle wearers to wear contact lenses, as the AR headsets cannot yet be adjusted for different visual acuities.
AR in the theater is still uncharted technical territory
Theater performances in virtual reality have already been around for a few years. The Coronavirus pandemic in particular drove several plays into virtual reality. Tea Staatstheater Augsburgfor example, implemented a full VR program and some excellent VR pieces including the VR ballet “kinesphere” and the interactive VR crime thriller “Solo”.
Projects using AR, on the other hand, are rare so far. For example, Magic Leap and the Royal Shakespeare Company created “The Seven Ages of Man” as “tabletop theater.”
The Deutsche Oper am Rhein is leading the way with its AR project. It will be interesting to see if opera houses and theaters in general start experimenting with AR more often and how it is received by the audience.
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