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At Wagner's Festival, New Technology Reveals a Leadership Rift

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As performers circle a metallic monolith onstage, screens show audience members wearing augmented reality glasses three-dimensional flowers floating through blank space.

An augmented reality motif in the new production of “Parsifal” at the Bayreuth Festival, directed by Jay Scheib

Credit: Bayreuth Festival

The use of augmented reality (AR) in a production of Richard Wagner's opera "Parsifal" opening Germany's Bayreuth Festival has incited a financial and philosophical dispute.

American festival director Jay Scheib said audience members wearing AR glasses will be able to see three-dimensional flowers and other items on screens appear to float through the theater during the production.

This entailed adapting AR technology for a large, darkened space, which Scheib's team accomplished by laser-scanning the entire auditorium.

An apparent financial disagreement forced the organizers to reduce the original number of glasses-outfitted spectators from nearly 2,000 to 330. This led to concerns that internal conflicts at one of the most important events in opera were undermining its relevance.

From The New York Times
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