iPod opera takes technology to the streets

The streets of South Bank will come alive to the sounds of high-tech opera when students and staff from the Queensland Conservatorium perform ”iOrpheus: Art Among Us ” on August 31.

iOrpheus is the world’s first public opera combining live performance with iPods, mobile phones and laptops played by opera participants and the audience.

Based on the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice, the opera is the third and final instalment of The Orpheus Trilogy, written by prominent New York-based composer and Griffith University Senior Fulbright specialist William Duckworth and media artist Nora Farrell.

The trilogy began in April 2006 as a year-long series of video podcasts designed for the personal, individual space of the iPod. It continued in February this year with a live concert at Arizona State University.

“We’ve had the individual opera with iPods and the concert. Now we want to take the performance to the streets,” Professor Duckworth said.

“The aim is to create guided moments where park visitors — using their everyday digital devices — can interact artistically as they move through South Bank.”

Griffith Chair in Digital Arts Professor Paul Draper said the beauty of the opera was that everyone could participate in many differnet ways: downloading music from the iOrpheus website to iPods, laptops or mobile phones or by just walking around the parklands and watching the live performances.

“The performance is a two and half hour event sparked by a fanfare, a group of performers on the step of the Queensland Conservatorium, five acts spread throughout the parklands and five ribbons of sound,” he said.

“The idea is to create a sudden critical mass of performers and participants to both announce and celebrate the start of the opera. Then, just as suddenly, people disperse in all directions as the ribbons of sound embark upon their journey through the park.”

Within each act, three parallel worlds converge: the music of the opera expressed through live performance, the street game to take place at the site of the original Expo 88 site in the parklands, and the mobile interactive environment, which will envelop each act in sight and sound.

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