An Opera Application

On a recent visit to the Met, I was thinking about super-titles and their back-of-seat titling system. And I idly wondered if the same technology would be possible on our smartphones.

As part of a “Make a Thing A Day Project,” I decided to create a mockup for an iphone (or ipad) app for opera audiences.

In the very early days of opera, before an opera performance, you purchased a small booklet, the libretto, diminutive of the Italian word “libro” (book), which gave you the translations, and provided some context for the performance. Ever since City Opera introduced super-titles in their opera house, we have no longer needed to bring librettos to a performance.

I thought that it would be interesting to create an smartphone application that provided even more information (and functionality) than the printed book, and would allow audiences to have a deeper appreciation of the work that they’re seeing onstage.

So I got my pad and paper, and made a really awkwardly drawn wireframe rendering, and then using the sketches, I created both an online playable mockup and a short video explaining the idea.

You’ll have to forgive my terrible sketching ability, but I think it could be cool. It does, however, rely on the idea that it’d be okay to pull out your phone while watching an opera (GASP!).

Here’s the video:

Libretto, The App from michael rau on Vimeo.

And here’s the online playable mockup. (It only seems to work in Firefox browsers–Chrome users, beware!)!/projects/529268dace4698ce5f0006fa/preview

Anyone interested in developing this idea even further? Am I totally nuts? Does this thing already exist?

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1 Comment

  1. No idea if this already exists or not, but I will say it’s a neat idea, and very similar to something that one of my students at the Pratt SLIS program proposed as a final project for a music hall library & information commons.
    There must be someone out there who could make this work. Wonder what the rights implications would be, though surely the book and the music for many operas must be in the public domain, yes?

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