San Diego Opera Announces Opera Hack 3.0

Opera Hack will once again take place virtually beginning May 20, 2022.

By: Apr. 26, 2022
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San Diego Opera has announced Opera Hack 3.0, the third in a series of interdisciplinary summits for music/theater and technology experts to explore how technology can be applied to the production, presentation, and consumption of opera. Inspired by "hacks" in the technological sector which often brings together experts in disparate fields to work together to solve a presented problem. This event will be held online, enabling participants from around the world to take part in crafting the future of opera. Calls for participants are now open at

San Diego Opera especially encourages applications from members of BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Color) communities, womxn, persons with disabilities, members of the LGBTQ+ community, and others who can contribute to the further diversification of ideas in music theater.

For the first Opera Hack, held between the 2019-2020 season, forty multi-disciplinary experts from around North America submitted sixteen proposals to a panel of tech and theater-based advisors. $40,000 in funding was disbursed to the three winning ideas enabling them to develop their proposal over the course of the year.

The second Opera Hack, held between 2020-2021 online, attracted 26 different proposals from multidisciplinary teams from North America, Europe, and Asia. $15,000 in funding was disbursed to the three winning proposals to allow them to continue developing their concepts. Previous year's winners and a short description of their proposal can be found at the bottom of this announcement.

Opera Hack 3.0 will continue to partner participants with local universities and tech companies to come up with creative solutions to scenarios opera companies are currently facing in today's changing landscape.

Participant candidates should have expertise in areas such as technical direction, lighting design, composition, costume design, performance, theater project management, stage direction, scenic design, 3D printing, virtual, augmented, and mixed reality, creative coding, A.I. and machine learning, computer vision and haptics, and interactive theater and performance art. Interested parties can apply online at no later than June 1, 2022.

Opera Hack will once again take place virtually beginning May 20, 2022.

There will be numerous online virtual events surrounding OperaHack including Open Channel Events and Hack/Socials which will feature presentations by Opera Hack Advisory Panelists or Opera Hack Partners on their work, with space for Opera Hack participants to introduce new topics of discussion or socialize with each other. A special effort will be made to help Opera Hack participants connect with each other

Final proposals are due July 3, 2022 and up to three winning proposals will be awarded funds to develop their proposal on August 26, 2022.

Participants will be mentored by an Advisory Panel that includes Alex Coloumbe, Sarah Ellis, Sheiva Khalily, and Stephanie Riggs.

Opera Hack 3.0 is made possible by an OPERA America Innovation Grant, supported by the Ann and Gordon Getty Foundation. OPERA America's Innovation Grants support exceptional projects that have the capacity to improve the vibrancy of opera in the field's most important areas of practice. These grants invest $1.5 million annually, enabling organizations to increase their investment in experimentation and innovation, and contribute to field-wide learning.

Previous winning Opera Hack proposas include:

  • Open Show - A collaborative, interactive, visual "show bible" made for and by creative and production teams that is easy-to-use and saves money during rehearsals, productions and production re-mounts. Team members: Miller Puckette, h0t club (Kate Bergstrom, Todd Anderson, Martim Galvão), and Bryan Jacobs. 2020 winner.


  • Opera Map - A professional database using 360 photogrammetry capture for design, planning, and production rental. Team members: Anne Hiatt, Emily Wells, Muntaser Syed, Fabian Kim, and Victoria Robertson. 2020 winner.

  • Becoming (formerly "Hamsafar") - A musical experience combining virtual reality, haptic feedback, and Space3D at the Qualcomm Institute. Team members: Shahrokh Yadegari, John Burnett, Jeremy Cooperstock, Louis Pisha, and Francesca Talenti. 2020 winner.

  • Real-Time Theater Engine: XR Show Control for Unity - XR Show Control for Unity is a cue-based plug-in for creating live or interactive XR performance work inside the Unity game engine/virtual reality environments due to its flexibility and interoperability across operating systems. This project is created by Lisa Szolovits, Ian Garrett, and Charles Coes. 2021 winner.

  • Performance Stock Exchange - A networking website to facilitate the sharing and renting of costumes, props, scenery, lighting, sound and media equipment. Current sharing paradigms are based on personal relationships and institutional knowledge, which means resources are overlooked or inaccessible if designers do not know they exist. Shops, companies, and individuals would create a self-managed profile with geolocation and respond to a brief questionnaire on the details of what they have to share. The project is created by Kristen P Ahern and Amy Sutton. 2021 winner.

  • MusiCue - Opera and theater performances often have to deal with hundreds, if not thousands, of cues every show. MusiCue allows for sound, video, and lighting designers to push cues to a stage manager with automation, as they are created, via the networking protocol OSC (Open Sound Control). OSC is compatible with the majority of industry-standard programs for designers (including QLab, Watchout, Isadora, and EOS Lighting Boards). It also allows for the pushing of cues to be toggled on/off, allowing designers to build and test looks. This project is proposed by Camilla Tassi and John Horzen. 2021 winner.

Opera Hack 3.0 Advisory Panel

Alex Coloumbe - Architect turned XR-chitect, Alex has been crafting theater (and theaters!) for over a decade. A consummate adopter of emerging tech, in 2013 he brought virtual reality to Fisher Dachs Associates to help design venues around the world. This led to helping venues previz live shows with VR, such as Kenneth Branagh's Macbeth (2014). In 2016 Agile Lens opened in NYC as a full-service XR studio. In 2018, Agile Lens oversaw a wide-ranging study of effective live VR performance, the results of which led to collaborations on several pieces, including the Venice Biennale's first live VR show viewable around the world, Loveseat (2019), as well as the ongoing live VR theater festival, OnBoardXR (2020-Present). Alex's newest venture, Heavenue, is a platform to immerse audiences interactively in high-fidelity live performances through cloud technology. The first production was Christmas Carol with Actors Theatre of Louisville in December 2021.

Sarah Ellis - Sarah is an award-winning producer currently working as Director of Digital Development for the Royal Shakespeare Company to explore new artistic initiatives and partnerships. The latest partnership for the RSC is the Audience of the Future Live Performance Demonstrator funded by Innovate UK - a consortium consisting of arts organizations, research partners and technology companies to explore the future of performances and real-time immersive experiences.

Sheiva Khalily - Sheiva joined Lux Machina Consulting in 2018 as a Virtual Production Producer. She received her B.A. in Theatre from UCLA and immediately began working as a freelance projection designer in opera and theatre. Sheiva worked for the Shanghai Disney Resort as a technical specialist before joining Lux Machina where she has worked as a producer on the award-winning League of Legends: Worlds 2020 E-sport event. More recently she led the team designing and installing the Virtual Production facility at Dexter Studios in South Korea and she regularly manages the virtual production elements of Broadcast and Film projects.

Stephanie Riggs - A 25-year veteran of the immersive entertainment industry, Stephanie has worked in leadership positions across VR, AR, Experiential, Theater, and Theme Parks. Previously: Vice Media, Disney Imagineering, and multiple XR start-ups. Co-Founder: Odeon Theatrical, World Experience Organization, 5th Wall Forum.


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