Opera Queensland premieres experimental augmented reality opera experience in prototype app

The scene is set for Opera Queensland to lift the curtain on Project AR-ia, an experimental Augmented Reality (AR) opera experience, which uses Google’s AR platform ARCore to transform a home into a stage and position audiences at the heart of an opera performance.

Working with some of the world’s leading AR designers, Opera Queensland and Google have set out to discover new ways to tell stories through opera. The collaboration with Google’s Creative Lab explores how users might one day stage an opera in their own home.

A cutting-edge collision of art and technology, Project AR-ia will be on display at the 12th ACM SIGGRAPH Conference and Exhibition on Computer Graphics and Interactive Techniques in Asia in Brisbane from 17-20 November.

The Minister for Communications, Cyber Safety and the Arts, The Hon Paul Fletcher, commended Opera Queensland on its work in developing Project AR-ia.

“This is a great example of how technology can unlock new ways for people to enjoy the arts, in this case bringing opera to life using the wonders of augmented reality,” Minister Fletcher said.

Opera Queensland Artistic Director Patrick Nolan said Google’s Creative Lab approached the company in early 2018 to develop the prototype AR app.

“As an arts organisation we’re curious about how we can tell stories that embrace the technology of our time and use it to engage new audiences and create new opera experiences,” Mr Nolan said.

“We want to reveal the wonder of opera to new audiences and break down the stereotype of opera as inaccessible. This experimental AR app demonstrates the potential for the art form to be enjoyed by anyone, anywhere, at any time.”

The team working on the demo app created an abridged version of Magic Flute, performed by a trio of Australian opera singers – Brenton Spiteri, Emma Pearson and Wade Kernot – accompanied by Camerata, Brisbane’s chamber orchestra.

“We were enthralled with the idea of using AR to bring a grand opera to life in the intimate surrounds of a home, but our ideas were beyond what the technology at the time could manage.” Mr Nolan said.

Google’s Project Lead Jonathan Richards said Project AR-ia was intended to explore new kinds of storytelling possibilities.

“This project provides a glimpse into what stories and entertainment could look like in five to 10 years’ time, and beyond,” Mr Richards said.

“By working with Opera Queensland to bring a rich, audio-visual art form like opera to life on Google’s ARCore platform, we can hopefully inspire a new generation of storytellers to explore what’s possible in AR.”

Mr Nolan said the demo app was at the forefront of creative technology but required significant investment and development over time to progress it beyond the prototype stage.

Opera Queensland and Google’s Creative Lab will be showing Project AR-ia at the 12th ACM SIGGRAPH Conference and Exhibition on Computer Graphics and Interactive Techniques in Asia at Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre from 17-20 November.

For more information, visit sa2019.siggraph.org/

Peter J Snee

Peter is a British born creative, working in the live entertainment industry. He holds an honours degree in Performing Arts and has over 12 years combined work experience in producing, directing and managing artistic programs & events. Peter has traversed the UK, Europe and Australia pursuing his interest in theatre. He is inspired by great stories and passionately driven by pursuing opportunities to tell them.

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