An old art form gets technology better than many businesses
Bravo to the many singers willing to bare all and risk being seen in street clothes, fluffing Russian pronunciation for a voice coach in a Eugene Onegin aria, being gently badgered by directors to try a different stage approach, learning how to pace a crescendo in Verdi or how to avoid being stabbed in a stage fight.
The ROH used social media to great effect, first to highlight the day well in advance on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, to encourage people to submit their own videos of themselves singing part of the Hebrew Chorus from Nabucco for a competition, and to incorporate the audience on the day by streaming their tweets across the screen and taking questions via Twitter for performers, conductors and directors.
New side of opera
Throughout the day, Twitter comments indicated many people like me simply gave up the pretence of trying to work and instead relished this novel insight into how not just one but several operas come into being onstage.
And regularly, someone would tweet along the lines that they had thought they didn’t like opera but were now so intrigued they couldn’t wait to go see something. For any organisation, that’s a result.
The final highlight was the concluding piece – a pre-recorded live broadcast from backstage of the third act of Wagner’s Die Walküre, a technical tour de force that even let viewers select whether they wanted to watch from the pit or the stage. “Best reality TV ever,” tweeted one viewer.
The only problem was bandwidth at the broadcast end. This was not an issue throughout the day, but frustratingly, so many were trying to watch the Wagner that many viewers got video but no audio, or a blank screen, or stuttering starts and stops.
That left some, including me, with a final feeling of slight deflation after a wonderful day.
And that’s the obvious issue that remains for any organisation using live streaming, a technology that has not yet quite come of age. Getting close, but too much depends still on user and broadcaster bandwidth.
The takeaway lesson for an organisation: ensure that you, at least, have the bandwidth for a full event broadcast – don’t risk audience exasperation.
I encourage anyone working in the business, online or entertainment worlds to watch some of it, to see just how extraordinary and thoughtful a well-planned online event can be.