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Barcelona opera house streams live performances to students

The Gran Teatre del Liceu opera house in Barcelona has turned to streaming media technology for its Opera Oberta educational and community outreach program. The goal of the program is to reach individuals – young adults in particular – who have limited or no opportunity to attend operas in person. To achieve this, the program streams live operatic performances via the Internet to students at more than 40 universities as part of the curriculum for an opera-themed class.

To power the opera house’s narrowcast programming, Madrid-based Ambient Media recently installed the ViewCast Niagara 4115RW streaming video encoder. The Liceu uses the Niagara 4115RW encoder to digitize opera video and audio contents for Opera Oberta and other Internet-related projects. The opera house, reconstructed following a fire in 1994, has world-class information technology facilities.

The Gran Teatre del Liceu and its partners, including Spain's Ministry of Industry, Trade, and Tourism, decided to launch the Opera Oberta project in May 2001. The number of participating universities expanded to 27 in 2003-2004, and to more than 40 in the current school year. Five opera performances, with subtitles in multiple languages, are now retransmitted live in high-quality 8Mb/s video and 640kb/s Dolby Digital-AC3 surround-sound audio as part of the Opera Oberta's course. This provides the universities with the capability of projecting the video on a large screen for students to enjoy the opera in a specially equipped hall. The audio and video highlights of each opera are also streamed in a lower-quality Windows Media or Real format on the Opera Oberta Internet site.

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