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The Met Opera Pushes The Boundary Of 3D Art

A new rendition of Richard Wagner’s opera changes the way performers move on stage and alters audiences’ perceptions.

Innovations in 3D projection are bringing us one step closer to holographic content (although hologram pop-stars are already selling out concert venues in Japan). Having already shocked the opera world last fall with an unprecedented staging of the first two parts of Richard Wagner’s epic Ring Cycle trilogy, the Metropolitan Opera is developing pioneering 3D projection technology for the cycle's third part, "Siegfried," set to debut this fall. After three years of planning, director Robert Lepage has yielded a primary stage consisting of 24 fiberglass planks that rotate 360 degrees on a single axis, are programed to form abstract scenery, and can move and transport performers who are fixed upon them. The planks will also function as surfaces for banks of projectors that will cover the elongated areas with image data, giving the audience a sense of depth within the scene without requiring any unsightly eyewear.


Unfortunately, only select forest scenes in "Siegfried" will be shown in 3D. As of now, this technology seems entirely tailor-made for this production, and has only been announced for use in "Siegfried"—no plans have been made to convert the other three parts in the Cycle. Since digital 3D production is becoming the standard for the way we see movies, and has seen much recent success—most notably with James Cameron's box office champion Avatar—the Met could be hoping to draw more attention to the production with the buzz surrounding the concept.

Opera once sought to assimilate all other forms of art together into one beautiful cohesive whole, and now it has the opportunity to bring technical innovation to the stage in the 21st century. The reportedly high level of detail in the imagery could push the medium in the way that computer-generated imagery (CGI) did for modern film. However effective the final result will be, a technical bar is definitely being set. The way this production is shaping up, mimics the attention and ambition that the composer became notorious for.

"Siegfried" will premiere on October 27, 2011 at The Metropolitan Opera House in NYC.