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Opera Hero

Posted at 9:44 PM on February 6, 2007 by Valerie Kahler
Filed under: The blog

At MPR's recent employee party, we had the opportunity to explore our "youthiness" (to adapt a Stephen Colbert-ism) via interactive video games like Dance Dance Revolution and Guitar Hero. For those of you who have no idea what I'm talking about, DDR is basically an electronic Twister mat linked to an onscreen video with an alarming array of arrows, flashing lights and loud music. Your feet are meant to follow the arrows, stomping on the particular squares indicated. Think of it as dance-karaoke. Guitar Hero is a similar deal, but you have a cute little plastic guitar instead of a Twister mat.

Anyway. With this recent experience in mind, imagine my intense curiosity when I read that Sony Playstation was collaborating with a London opera company on La Boheme. I tried to imagine what an interactive opera video game would require. Singing might be tricky, because though there are devices that register pitch, how would they account for vibrato, slides, scoops, scripted asides? So what could the element of participation be? Air conducting with a Wii baton? Dramatic gestures on cue?

Alas (hurray?), none of the above. Sony is going to set up a bunch of Playstations around the venue in addition to directing audience members to an interactive site. It's admittedly a strategy on the part of Sony to introduce their product to someone other than teenage boys, but will the opera benefit as well? At the very least, the audience can enjoy an enriched opera experience via the website, where they can watch time-lapse videos of stage & set prep, read opera blogs, check out the costumes and makeup, take online singing lessons, enter an "Opera Idol" contest, and lots more. It's actually pretty groovy. Kind of like the "extras" that come with a DVD. I wonder if there's a blooper reel?