BWW Interview: Maestro Atsushi Yamada Talks Philharmonia Orchestra of New York's LA TRAVIATA With 3D Holograms
This week in New York City, Philharmonia Orchestra of New York (PONY) is premiering LA TRAVIATA with 3D holographic projections for the sets. On March 20 and 21, 2018 audiences at the Rose Theater will be treated to the show's classic and beloved arias set against awe-inspiring backdrops like Niagara Falls. To get the inside scoop on this first-of-its-kind presentation we chatted with PONY Maestro Atsushi Yamada.
What made you interested in exploring combining opera performance with 3D holographic projections?
Philharmonia Orchestra of New York (PONY) has been utilizing 4K (Ultra HD) films and other new technologies since its inception. In that endeavor, it has been one of our goals to produce an opera that does not rely upon the use of the traditional sets or props. It was an exact match to what Satoshi Ueda, our creative director, has been working on. When I saw his work, I knew that my vision would come true.
When considering doing an opera with this technology, why did you pick LA TRAVIATA?
LA TRAVIATA is one of the most popular operas in the world, and we wanted to use this opportunity to give it new life. We are planning four other operas using this technology in the future, but I thought we should start with LA TRAVIATA.
In preparing this for audiences, what has been the most difficult aspect of working with the 3D holographic projections?
Actually, it wasn't the 3D hologram technology itself, but trying to be in the mindset of "What if this new technology were available back when Verdi was alive?" That was the most difficult.
Conversely, what has been the most interesting or rewarding aspects?
Because of the advancement of the technology, now we can create something that Verdi couldn't. I believe it makes the piece much easier for the audience to understand and empathize with the characters and get into the story. We set the piece in contemporary New York so that New Yorkers could relate to the story, and it inspired us to see this piece in a new light.
In your opinion, what does using technology like 3D holographic projections add to the experience of watching opera performed?
We want to re-define what an opera is, to challenge the notion of how an opera should be performed. If Verdi was alive today, how would he produce it? What would opera look like if the new technologies were available to him?
What do you hope audiences take away from witnessing an opera performed with this kind of technology?
I would like the audience to feel what they feel when they go to see a movie or a musical. Right now, the demographics of opera are very different from that of movies and musicals. I want the audience to be moved and entertained, just like they are when they watch movies and musicals. There are a lot of people who go to see THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA many times. I hope that there will be people who will want to see this new LA TRAVIATA again and again.
What advice would you offer to other companies who are looking at ways to "modernize," if you will, their own opera performances with technology?
I don't believe I am in the place to give anyone advice. Each company has their own strength and PONY's strength is to utilize the new technology. The advice I'd give is to amplify those strengths to reimagine the traditional opera.
For more information about and tickets to Philharmonia Orchestra of New York's (PONY) production of LA TRAVIATA please visit https://www.pony2018.com/. You can also follow PONY on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.