Greek National Opera, Virtual Premieres

Who is the Greek National Opera:

The Greek National Opera (GNO) has operated since 1994 as a private legal entity and is sponsored by the Hellenic Ministry of Culture, Education and Religious Affairs. Greek National Opera mission is to offer audiences – at home and abroad – high-caliber productions, by presenting operas, ballets, operettas, operas for children and music recitals, among others. Performances are held at the Olympia Theatre (which includes the Children’s Stage), the Athens Concert Hall and the open-air Odeon of Herodes Atticus.

Project Description 2014-2015:

Greek National Opera recognizing the need to make a transition to the digital era, decided to procure an international tender for a production system allowing the audio & video recording, editing, production and live or on-demand/scheduled distribution of the operas. This would also help in attracting new public to the Opera, the strengthening of the Greek National Opera profile, more effective implementation of the Greek National Opera mission and also better promotion. The project was financed by the Operating Programme "Digital Convergence", as part of National Strategic Reference Framework (NSRF), the European Union and National Resources.

The tender was awarded to Telmaco during Q2 2014. The total project duration was 18 months of which the first 12 months included the system design, equipment supply, installation, configuration, commissioning and training of the system while the last 6 months included the trial operation of the system by the Greek National Opera staff. The project was turn-key including all necessary infrastructure works (networking, power distribution and conditioning, wiring, etc.) Installation took place in Olympia Theatre in Athens where Greek National Opera stages most of its productions until today.

During early 2016 Greek National Opera will relocate to the new building at the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center (SNFCC). In its new home, GNO will become an exciting destination for music lovers and architecture cognoscenti alike. The new 28,000 m² (301,000 sq. ft.) auditorium is an architectural jewel, designed to enhance the opera experience for patrons and artists alike. Its world-class acoustics, mechanical capabilities, flexible staging, and innate beauty will position it for immediate entry into the world opera circuit, ready to play host to the most technically demanding operas, international multimedia art productions, and formidable solo vocalists. Existing system will also be relocated to the new building.

Design Approach:

Design philosophy based on Greek National Opera requirements and also the tender specifications. Special care was taken in order to assure system quality and reliability which is a top priority for Telmaco. High quality equipment used in order to assure that the result will be compliant with the high standards of the Greek National Opera.

System Description:

The complete system is composed from the following sub-systems:

1. Recording (production) sub-system

This will be used to record all Greek National Opera Productions in the Olympia Theatre. It includes the following:

• Storage server for recording and playback of A/V content with all associated infrastructure.

• Video editing system.

• Streaming server for the distribution of the content in high quality to audiences via internet.

• 4 pieces of High Definition robotic cameras with PTZ heads and controller.

• Subtitling generator used during the operas for live subtitling.

• Intercom system for the production crew.

• P2 camcorder with accessories for mobile recording (interviews, etc).

• Set of wired and wireless microphones.

• Digital audio console for the recording needs.

• Mobile Digital audio console to use at outside/external Productions.

• Non-linear audio recording/editing/mastering system with surround capabilities.

• Digital audio stereo and surround effects.

• Routing & Glue Equipment.

• Studio monitoring system.

• UPS for uninterrupted mains supply of the system.

In addition, the above recording system can interact with the Greek National Opera portal and can prepare content for publishing to YouTube etc.

2. Information Delivery sub-system:

This is used to deliver information regarding the activities of Greek national Opera:

a. 15 x large displays installed in selected locations and reproducing content of the Greek National Opera.

b. 3 x interactive boards installed in selected locations and including specially developed application which can display selected content of Greek National Opera and also including special questionnaire regarding Greek National Opera activities and how these are visible by the audience. The user replies are stored in database for further use from Greek National Opera.

3. Streaming Audio sub-system:

This is used to stream selected opera audio content within Greek National Opera LAN and capability to be expanded for use as web radio. Includes all necessary as audio server, audio clients, radio automation system with scheduler and play to air modules, 16TB of storage, streaming server, etc.

4. Interoperability sub-system:

It is used as a bridge between the recording (production) sub-system and the Greek National Opera Portal by synchronizing content and metadata between the two above areas.

5. Portal (vertical portal) sub-system:

This sub-system is used to display Greek National Opera content (audio & video) and associated metadata. Users can request access from Greek National Opera and through log-in they can have access to the content (audio/video/metadata) under predefined rights. Also it is possible to view trailers from existing operas (or complete operas) provided that specific user has enough rights.

6. Study of economic viability and business model regarding the operas network:

Greek National Opera (in addition to the activities in Athens) wanted to expand its activities around Greece and to host events for the playout of recorded performances. This plan will give easy access of Greek National Opera productions to audiences that live away from Athens. The above study was used to select halls that can host such events and to create the necessary cooperation framework. The study also researched on how these activities can be financially viable for GNO.

7. Equipment for the Theater:

Part of the project included the supply of related production fabric for the theater (i.e. curtains, projection screens, etc) and the supply of professional high quality projector for the opera needs.

All the above systems can be the new creative tools of Greek National Opera that can be used to spread their cultural messages around Greece upgrading the cultural level of the country.