As Ireland's national opera company, INO produces high-quality, accessible opera in venues throughout Ireland and overseas. It is currently developing Isolde, a groundbreaking street art performance software ecosystem.
INO, in consultation with artistic partners Dumbworld and technology partners Nuwa, are developing a ground-breaking new mobile app, 'Isolde', to revolutionise the way audiences interact with opera. Isolde, currently in its beta testing phase, allows audiences to stream high-quality audio directly to their mobile phone, syncing seamlessly with projected visuals or video content. We sat down with Sarah Halpin, Digital Producer at INO, to learn more about the app, the ambition behind it, and the possibilities it holds. INO is an Arts member of Business to Arts.
Scorched Earth - Irish National Opera
What was your vision for this app?
Over the last number of years INO and Dumbworld have been exploring the concept of ‘street art opera’ – operas shown in public spaces with the action projected on the walls of public buildings. The app was born out of a need for a simpler audio solution in the presentation of this work, something that would allow us to control the quality of the audio the audience would experience, this is opera after all, while keeping the accessibility of the street art format.
What was it like collaborating with specialists from such a different field?
Cross genre collaboration is something that we’re quite used to working in opera, although this project has certainly pushed us a little further outside of our comfort zone than we’re used to. The biggest challenge we’ve found working at the intersection of arts and technology is a question of language and process. Building a relationship of trust and understanding is key, as inevitably the language we use and the way we approach problems is very different. It’s important to take the time to understand the differences inherent in how each of you will approach and understand the project.
What do you see as the key opportunities for this technology across the broader arts sector?
We’re really excited about the possibilities Isolde holds for organisations across the arts and beyond. Apart from outdoor screenings of street operas, we see applications for gallery and museum tours, audio descriptions in theatres and novel marketing formats. We developed Isolde to solve a specific problem for us, but we’re keen to hear about the problems it can solve for our colleagues across the industry as well as exploring applications for the private sector. Creative minds are continuously re-purposing technology for their own needs and we can’t wait to see where Isolde will go.
How do you see this technology pushing the boundaries of the arts in the future?
One of the main benefits of Isolde is the ability to connect with audiences in a more accessible way by streaming audio direct to their smartphone. We hope Isolde will allow artists and organisations to really broaden the scope of the audiences they connect with, where anyone in the right place at the right time will be able to share the experience via a few clicks on their phone. Add to this the idea of reaching multiple audiences in multiple locations at the same time and the possibilities become really exciting.
Can you give us a hint as to what you have planned next?
Right now, we’re in the middle of beta testing for the current iteration of Isolde which will provide us with lots of data on how Isolde performs in the particular setting of Street Art Opera. But we’re keen to learn more about how Isolde performs for other use cases and will be recruiting interest from arts organisations across Ireland to allow us to test and gather that data. That will set us up nicely for the next phase of development, where we plan to develop the app to incorporate new features such as the ability to serve multiple presentations at any one time and increased app interactivity to enhance the audience experience.
If you’d like to learn more about Isolde and how you can get involved in the development of this exciting technology, or are interested in coming on board as a corporate partner, you can reach out to email@example.com. We’d love to start a conversation.
For more information see Irish National Opera