Introducing AR Opera Glasses from Deutsche Oper am Rhein

AR and VR have many different use cases. Creative minds are continually developing new cultural applications. The Deutsche Oper am Rhein (German Opera on the River) is experimenting with a pilot project: an opera performance enhanced with augmented reality in partnership with Vodafone. Thirty spectators see the new Erich Wolfgang Korngold production of “Die tote Stadt” (The Dead City) while wearing augmented reality headsets.

The visual aid, which the management refers to as “digital opera glasses,” shows additional digital information while the performance is being given. This includes historical context, bilingual subtitles, and several camera angles. Real-time content presentation is provided through a 5G network.

Opera companies want to use AR to reach new audiences. The focus is on the concept of communication, as Prof. Christoph Meyer, General Director of the Deutsche Oper am Rhein, explains:

Our digital opera glass offers new, low-threshold entry to the analogue realm of musical theatre by fusing live experience with immersive technology. Developing the prototype is a component of our plan to make opera and ballet more accessible through online resources. Additionally, it aims to spark a wider discussion on effective ways to reach a new audience in the digital age.

The debut of augmented reality will occur on April 16. A total of six concerts are planned. On March 10, advance tickets for AR seats go on sale. There is no entrance fee. The opera house encourages spectacle users to wear contact lenses, as the AR headsets could still be adjusted for various visual acuities.

Theater AR is still technically an unexplored area. Virtual reality theatre productions have been around for a while. Particularly the coronavirus pandemic inspired several dramas to be produced in virtual reality. The Staatstheater Augsburg, for instance, has a comprehensive VR program in place and has produced some notable VR works, such as the VR dance “kine-sphere” and the interactive VR “Solo” crime thriller.

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