Das Rheingold – Visionized 2004

At the work’s premiere in September 2004, the classical mise en scène on the operatic stage was replaced by a virtual environment that completely enveloped the audience, which made possible an unprecedented form of interpretation and reception of the work. The stereoscopic projections opened up the walls of the concert hall onto a virtual panorama that exponentially expanded the building’s dimensions, whereby the world of visuals thus created was directly linked to the tonal universe produced in the hall. The computer-controlled scenery followed Wagner’s work and reflected the interpretation of the musicians in the form of dynamic structures that embodied the opera’s characters and settings.


Wagners Rheingold as an experimental approach on the Future of Opera.


In light of what was called for to carry out this ambitious approach, it was necessary to enter uncharted territory. To this end, a transdisciplinary team of specialists was given one year’s time to teach a computer system to analyze Wagner’s “Das Rheingold” and to interpret it according to design criteria. The raw material in the form of conceptual designs and formalized intentions was modulated in real time on the basis of musical information.

One particular challenge was in developing a visual language capable of expressing both the artist’s intention and the team’s interpretation of the Ring, in finding a way between classically staging and systematically re-construing the work.


A computer-generated viisualisation of Wagner's Rheingold. Foto: Ars Electronica Futurelab
A computer-generated viisualisation of Wagner’s Rheingold. Foto: Ars Electronica Futurelab


The inherently processual nature of each and every performance underscored the project’s character that was in numerous respects experimental, since the final results were indeed generally calculable but not predictable in every detail.

Senior Executive Developer:

Horst Hörtner

Research & Development:

Florian Berger, Pascal Maresch, Robert Abt, Andreas Jalsovec, Stefan Mittlböck-Jungwirth, Peter Freudling

Keyresearcher / Virtual Environments:

Christopher Lindinger


Yvonne Hauser