Opera Colorado & CU Denver Partner for Virtual Reality Exhibition

December 14, 2017 | By Opera Colorado | Opera Colorado News
CU Denver students filming at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House. Photo courtesy CU Denver.

Most people wouldn’t think of even uttering “opera” and “virtual reality” in the same breath, let alone imagine a mashup of the two. But, here we are! In a cutting-edge collaboration between Opera Colorado, the College of Arts & Media at the University of Colorado Denver, and virtual reality agency HypercubeExperience La Bohème—a 360-degree, virtual reality exhibition—takes viewers behind the scenes and onto the stage of a large-scale opera production. Have you ever wanted to know what it feels like to stand on the stage of the Ellie Caulkins Opera House? Ever think about exactly how much work goes on behind the scenes during a show? This unique collaboration is your chance to experience it all!

Experience La Bohème comes on the heels of Opera Colorado’s November 2017 production of Puccini’s La Bohème, and features an in-depth and exclusive look at getting the opera ready for audiences.

The free exhibition opens to the public on Friday, December 15, at the NXT STG Collaborative Gallery (located in the Denver Performing Arts Complex Galleria just across from the Buell Theatre), and runs through May 2018, allowing thousands of DPAC arts-goers to stop in, put on a virtual reality headset and step into the world of an opera performer.

The CU Denver team filming backstage, as Opera Colorado singers get into hair and makeup prior to a performance of La Bohème. Photo courtesy CU Denver.

“Many people are unaware of the thousands of hours that go into mounting an opera, and the work of dozens of behind-the-scenes players in addition to the artists you see and hear on stage or in the orchestra pit,” says Opera Colorado General Director Greg Carpenter. “This collaboration with CU Denver’s College of Arts & Media gives us an opportunity to share with the public the magic of opera in a whole new way, while also aligning perfectly with Opera Colorado’s commitment to education and community partnerships.”

While the cast and crew of La Bohème were busy in rehearsal and performances, CU Denver professors Michelle Bauer Carpenter and Travis Vermilye led more than 50 of their Digital Design students in capturing and editing footage of everything from set load-in to wigs and makeup transformations, from staging rehearsals to dress rehearsals—as well as exclusive dressing room interviews with opera stars Anya Matanovic (Mimi), Dominick Chenes (Rodolfo), Monica Yunus (Musetta) and Levi Hernandez (Marcello); Opera Colorado Music Director Ari Pelto; and in-demand stage director Matthew Ozawa.

Backstage at The Ellie Caulkins Opera House, Stage Director Matthew Ozawa explains the importance of the call board. Photo courtesy CU Denver.

“The College of Arts & Media’s unique program in Digital Design allows students to integrate creative solutions, visual design and critical thinking with expertise in advanced electronic media,” says Laurence Kaptain, Dean of the College of Arts & Media and a member of the Opera Colorado Board of Directors. “I’m proud of this affiliation that advances the exciting work of Opera Colorado through the lens of a 21st century vision that is extended by the latest digital technology.”

The finished product combines virtual reality and traditional video footage to present an immersive, 360-degree look at grand opera. Additionally, the Experience La Bohème installation at the NXT STG Collaborative Gallery (an interactive gallery space by the University of Colorado Denver and Denver Arts & Venues) features augmented reality displays created by student teams, highlighting additional elements of La Bohème and Opera Colorado’s production.

The technology used to create Experience La Bohème includes traditional filming, augmented reality using Aurasma, and 360 virtual reality capturing devices powered by Hypercube, Unity, Vive, and Oculus Rift. The collaboration includes virtual reality direction by Mark Anton Read.

CU Denver students work with Hypercube’s Mark Anton Read during filming at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House. Photo courtesy CU Denver.

A 360-degree, virtual reality exhibition  

Opening Reception
Friday, December 15, 2017
5 – 8 pm

Exhibition Dates/Hours
December 15, 2017, through May 2018
Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays: 4:30 pm – 7:30 pm
Saturdays and Sundays: 12:30 pm – 7:30 pm

NXT STG Collaborative Gallery

at the Denver Performing Arts Complex
1025 13th St, Denver, CO 80202

For directions and information, visit https://www.nextstagecu.org/

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