NY Times: Opera Glasses, Google Edition
By Allan Kozinn, May 16, 2014
Opera companies, particularly small experimental ones, have been toying in recent years with immersive performances, in which audiences and performers move through different spaces. Often, these have been new works in English, but for companies interested in reimagining the classic canon, one question regularly arises: How to give mobile audiences the supertitle translations to which they have become accustomed?
On Site Opera, a feisty company that was founded in 2012 to present site-specific performances – it has performed at the Bronx Zoo and the Cotton Club – has a solution: Google Glass.
During the run of its new production of Rameau’s “Pygmalion” a 1748 work about a sculptor who become smitten by one of his statues – the company is setting aside one performance for an experiment in which title will be projected to Google Glass. The software for the experiment is being created by Figaro Systems, which makes the software for the seatback titles at the Metropolitan Opera.
Are there many operagoers who have Google Glass?
“I know some,” Eric Einhorn, On Site Opera’s founder and artistic director said in an interview on Friday. “And we’ve reached out to the greater Google Glass community, which is very interconnected, and we’ve had a very good response. There is also a fair number of people in the opera world – administrators of larger companies and institutions who are interested in this but were not ready to take the first step – who will be following this.”
The Google Glass performance is on June 19 at the Lifestyle-Trimco Mannequin Showroom, and is free to operagoers who bring a pair of the glasses. The other performances, which will have conventional supertitles, are at Madame Tussauds New York on June 17, and at Lifestyle on June 20 and 21.
“In this production,” Mr. Einhorn said, “the performers move through the space, but the audience is stationary, so conventional titles will work. But we’ve done things that are more immersive, and this is a way to test the system in a closed environment, so that we can see its potential for more adventurous applications.”