Ask Dr. Tech: When campus tech meets performing arts

Dr. Jon Dorbolo

When lost in the forest do not seek help at the dwelling of an ogre who devours children “just like a cat can crush a sparrow.”

I addition to this safety tip I also learned that the 600 seat round room in the Learning Innovation Center (LINC) may be used creatively in ways not imagined by the planners.

Last Friday and Saturday “The Blue Forest” by performed by the OSU Opera Workshop and directed by Professor Marc Callahan; opera in the round.

The music was beautiful, the performances were strong, the sets were stunning and the story is deeply symbolic.

“The Blue Forest” (La foret bleu) was scored by French composer Louis Aubert (1877-1968) to a libretto written by Jacques Cheneviere and premiered in Geneva in 1913.

Aubert was a child prodigy vocalist whose compositions are highly symbolic often centering on a single color.

The story of his only opera is a collage of classic fairy tales in which the characters struggle with their fears and desires as the powers of evil and good shape the world around them.

Act One takes place in a village beset by prejudice and cruelty where two adolescents explore their budding, but forbidden, romance. They are paralleled by a princess and a prince who each conceal their identities and so lose their way.

Act Two finds the confused children, having been repelled or abandoned by their parents, deep in a wood replete with dangers,

Almost lost to the malevolent forces they overcome their fears using reason and courage collaboratively to defeat the threat.

In Act Three the personal growth of the youths translates into self-realization for the prince and princess as she awakens and they unite.

With their governing facilities in balance, the villagers wake up and the restoration of justice and compassion in the community follows.

This complex story was wonderfully performed with singing and acting by OSU Music students, accompanied on piano by Music instructor Lauren Servais.

An outstanding aspect of the production were the sets designed by Art Instructor Andrew Myers, which were projected onto the 360 degree overhead screens.

The backgrounds were made so that two images from the eight projectors came together to produce a seamless panoramic image and the effect was remarkable.

The images of the Village, forest and castle were grey scale with subtle uses of a cool blue extracted from pigment of the Elf’s Cup fungus gathered in the Macdonald Dunn forest North of Corvallis.

Another vibrant hue used in the production’s art is from a pigment discovered at OSU in 2009, “YinMn Blue.”

In addition to enjoying the opening night of the opera I observed the production from the vantage point of John Myers, Videographer with Academic Technology.

Myers perched in a control studio on 4th floor of LINC operating 5 remote cameras to stream the production to the web watched by 28 online viewers; I counted more than 100 patrons in LINC100.

One of the challenges he faced was anticipating the action so as to bring the appropriate camera into play at the right framing and focus as the action spontaneously occurred.

As he triggered a dramatic dissolve to gain a new angle Myers said; “In 30 years of broadcasting I have switched a lot of events without a script; comedy, sports, classes and music but this is my first opera.”

If Myers had doubts it did not show as he deftly played the switching board and five monitors and observed; “I approach this work as if I were in attendance because I want the video viewers to see the production from the point of view of an audience member.”

A link to the online video will be posted on my blog:

“The Blue Forest” is first major performing arts production to be staged in LINC100 and because that room is the only round university classroom in existence, this opera performance was a first anywhere.

Unique and original happenings occur at OSU all of the time and like the protagonists of “The Blue Forest” your self-realization will grow as you become increasingly aware and engaged in the verdant beauty that surrounds us.

The opinions expressed in Dorbolo’s column do not necessarily relfect those of The Daily Barometer staff.

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