IU Opera scores in the end zone with plans to stream at stadium

opera stadiumBy Marcela Creps
Herald-Times
Oct. 23, 2014

Ever been sitting in IU’s Memorial Stadium and wished someone would break into song in the end zone?

It may be a far-fetched dream, but it will become a reality Friday with “Opera in the End Zone.”

The event is a collaboration between the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music and IU Athletics. Friday’s 8 p.m. performance of “La Boheme” at the Musical Arts Center will be live-streamed onto the Jumbotron at Memorial Stadium.

Jacobs School of Music Dean Gwyn Richards said the school is always trying to think of ways to reach audiences. Certain shows are streamed live so anyone with an Internet connection can watch. Doing shows from the school’s facilities is often a necessity when it comes to sound, staging, lighting and more.

“But we’ve been trying over the last months to think of ways we can be in unusual spaces where you don’t expect to find us,” Richards said.

So Richards contacted IU Athletic Director Fred Glass. And the two talked about the possibility of streaming an opera in the stadium.

Associate Athletic Director Jeremy Gray said there were a number of factors to consider when the idea was first proposed. The logistics were worked out over the summer, but the one unknown and unpredictable factor is the weather.

“But it looks like the weather is going to cooperate, too,” Gray said.

Other logistics, such as where the audience could sit, were easily worked out. And there was no concern on the streaming connection needed for the simulcast.

“But one worry is that audio is super important in an opera. The one worry is with the cavernous stadium. Would there be an echo or a delay that would make it not work,” Gray said.

Richards is confident the sound will be clear for the audience.

“The speakers are in the scoreboard, so when the sound goes by you, it hits the north end of the stadium and comes back to you. That’s one of the challenges,” he said.

But Richards said if people sit close enough to the scoreboard, the sound will be fine.

The show will be a chance for people to experience the opera in a new and different way. And it’s also fulfilling the Jacobs School’s desire to reach new audiences.

“We’re always trying to get outside the cultural cave and try to allow people to have a more diverse listening experience than they usually do,” Richards said. “This is a great first opera, and it’s the basis for the musical, ‘Rent.’ And people may know it having come from ‘Rent.’”

For anyone new or curious to opera, Gray said this is a great opportunity to check it out.

“‘La Boheme’ is a very accessible opera, and this is an accessible location. So for people who want to try it for the first time, this is kind of ideal,” Gray said.

Although there may have been some concerns about the event, Richards said the unknown is exciting.

“We like the flying without a net feeling of it, too. We love the concept. We hope a lot of people will find this of interest,” he said.

“Who would have thought you could sit on the 10-yard line on a blanket and watch ‘La Boheme’ live from the Musical Arts Center,” Richards said.

If you go:

WHAT: Opera in the End Zone presents “La Boheme”

WHEN: 8 p.m. Friday. The southeast gate opens at 7:30

WHERE: IU’s Memorial Stadium

MORE: The event and parking are free. Patrons may sit on the south end of the field or in the stands. Patrons are encouraged to bring a blanket or lawn chair, however, four-legged folding chairs will not be permitted. Lawn chairs with horizontal bars are allowed. No alcohol or glass is permitted. Food and drink are welcome as long as they are consumed in the stands or on the blankets instead of the turf.

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