← View All Articles

Converse College premiere of “Troiades” pushes boundaries of traditional opera

A Converse College School of the Arts collaboration is pushing the limits of traditional opera through the use of innovative technologies. TroiadesConverse musicology and composition professor Dr. David Berry, an accomplished composer, and co-creator Dr. Ronald Boudreaux, former director of Converse Opera Theatre, will premiere their opera-oratorio "Troiades" at Converse Jan. 23-25, 2015. For info and tickets, visit culture.converse.edu. Scenery for the production is created with projection mapping, and performers are accompanied by digital orchestration. “These are fairly new and somewhat controversial concepts in the world of opera, but these technologies open up new possibilities for use of space and selection of venue,” said Berry. “In many ways, Troiades is like a laboratory for Converse to explore some approaches that are not being done elsewhere in our state or region.” The setting has a graphic novel (comic book) style. While the term “projection mapping” is not widely recognized by the general public, it will be familiar from its use in such events as the Olympics opening ceremony in Sochi, and for Carrie Underwood's costume on stage at the 2013 Grammy Awards. Graphics for the opera's set and action scenes were created by Converse freshman art major Hannah Stewart, who attended the Governor's School for the Arts in Greenville, S.C. prior to coming to Converse. Stewart adapted set designs created by Converse interior design students as a class project. Combined, these technologies push the boundaries of traditional opera and expand the limitations typically dictated by a venue. “Daniel Recital Hall is an intimate setting for an opera, and that would not be possible without the use of these technologies,” said Berry. “This is about exploring new ways to make art and impact the experience of our audiences.” The story of "Troiades" is told through the viewpoint of women who lived through the Trojan War. The female perspective is rarely captured in accounts of early historical times, and Berry was drawn to that angle as a way to honor Converse's mission as a women's college. He blends historical accuracy of the Bronze Age with 21st century twists, like the graphic novel design and a contemporary narrator who provides commentary on the action. “Everything that is happening to the Trojans in this story is happening in our world right now – it is mirrored by today’s news headlines,” said Berry. “That is why the mix between the Bronze Age and 21st century was an important focus for me.” Several notable Converse music alumni will perform alongside students, and the production is directed by Elizabeth Margolius, a 1990 Converse alumna and professional director from Chicago. The production demonstrates how colleges can expand into new arts areas to meet the needs of today's students – a priority for the Converse School of the Arts. “It provides students with a broader range of experiences as they prepare to explore career paths and make their mark as artists," said Berry.

How are arts organizations using digital technologies?

The Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project (PIP) has released the results of a new survey, "Arts Organizations and Digital Technologies." The survey was designed to understand how arts organizations are using the internet, social media and other digital technologies to connect with the public. The survey focused specifically on how arts organizations are navigating the changing technological landscape, how it has impacted their mission-driven work, and the challenges and opportunities. Individuals from 3,644 arts organizations that had received grants from the National Endowment for the Arts in the past five years were invited to take the survey; 1,244 completed at least part of the survey. Eye on Flat Panel Monitor An excerpt from the summary: "The internet and social media are integral to the arts in America. (The) survey finds that technology use permeates these organizations, their marketing and education efforts, and even their performance offerings. Moreover, many organizations are using the internet and social media to expand the number of online performances and exhibits, grow their audience, sell tickets, and raise funds online, while allowing patrons to share content, leave comments, and even post their own content on organizations’ sites. The internet and digital technologies have also disrupted much of the traditional art world, according to these organizations. It has changed audience expectations, put more pressure on arts groups to participate actively in social media and, in some circumstances, undercut organizations’ missions and revenue streams. Even the notion of art is changing: 77% of respondents strongly agree or somewhat agree with the statement that digital technologies have 'played a major role in broadening the boundaries of what is considered art.' Tied to this embrace of technology is a widespread sense among arts group leaders that digital technologies are critical to the spread of the arts." Read or download the full report here. Video: Jeffrey Brown of PBS Newshour's Art Beat interviews Lee Rainie, Director of the Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project, about the survey findings. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dgUlcgjloRw&feature=youtu.be Via: Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project.  "Arts Organizations and Digital Technologies" by Kristin Thomson, Kristen Purcell and Lee Rainie. Jan. 4, 2013