San Francisco Opera to Introduce High-Definition Video in Opera House

Classic Arts News   San Francisco Opera to Introduce High-Definition Video in Opera House
San Francisco Opera general director David Gockley has announced the creation of a high-definition broadcast-standard video production facility, which the company says is the first to be installed in an American opera house.

Located on the fifth floor of the War Memorial Opera House, the Koret Media Suite enables San Francisco Opera to generate a live high-definition, multi-camera audio and video feed of onstage performances for many uses, including simulcasts. The suite also includes on-site video and audio post-production facilities; these will allow the company to produce and edit radio broadcasts in-house and to expanded podcasting, live streaming and DVD production.

The new facility also incorporates a program called OperaVision, which debuts at tomorrow night's Don Giovanni, the opening performance of the company's 2007 summer season. OperaVision aims to offer the chance for balcony audiences to "experience opera with a goal of bringing them the best of both worlds: the acclaimed acoustics of the War Memorial Opera House balcony and a prime orchestra seat perspective of the stage."

Balcony seats often do not allow patrons to see the full depth of the stage: OperaVision screens will address that problem by providing full stage, close-up and mid-range ensemble shots in high-definition video, with supertitles, on two 5½' x 9½' retractable screens hung from the ceiling of the auditorium.

San Francisco's OperaVision is similar to the program of the same name which Gockley inaugurated in fall 2001 at Houston Grand Opera (where he was general director at the time). HGO's OperaVision is comprised of six plasma and projection screens, located in limited-view sections of the Grand Tier and balcony sections, which provide the audience in those areas with close-up views of onstage action and musicians.

The creation of the Koret Media Suite and launch of OperaVision are among Gockley's electronic media plans for San Francisco Opera; those plans also include the company's recent return to local and international radio airwaves after an absence of over twenty-five years and free simulcasts around the Bay Area.

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