Virtual Wagner done right

(Received in my Oggle email inbox; I can’t vouch for its veracity.)

The Long (Conn.) Wagner Festival announces its campaign on PrickStarter to fund an exciting new production of Wagner’s Das Rheingold, and we need your help!

This innovative production will be done with a virtual conductor (MaestroData – patent pending) and fully animated CGI singers, utilizing data from years of Wagner recordings and video and film footage of the great Wagner conductors processed with advanced motion capture and leading-edge artificial arrogance technology. This breakthrough technology allows us to fully digitize all the relevant gestures (even the silly, useless ones) that a Wagner conductor uses, providing a fully reproducible set of movements on which the orchestra can depend, without abuse or tantrums (although the commercialized version of the software will have those as optional modules). The use of GoogleGlass will allow the musicians to see the MaestroData system without the need for the audience to be distracted by its movements.

Our CGI singers are based on digitally sampled sounds from the major singers of the great European opera companies (or at least those where German is decently pronounced), while our visual animations allow us to present singers as the hotties that Wagner intended, avoiding the visual and political perils of ChubbyGate. Our Valkyries will be riding on the 3D helicopters that audiences have secretly craved.

If you too believe that wetware conductors and singers are more trouble than they’re worth, please join us in funding this important initiative. If, on the other hand, you think that it really doesn’t matter that a Wagner orchestra sounds like a kazoo with emphysema, you can fund this project instead.

About the author

Robert Levine
Robert Levine

Robert Levine has been the Principal Violist of the Milwaukee Symphony since September 1987. Before coming to Milwaukee Mr. Levine had been a member of the Orford String Quartet, Quartet-in-Residence at the University of Toronto, with whom he toured extensively throughout Canada, the United States, and South America. Prior to joining the Orford Quartet, Mr. Levine had served as Principal Violist of The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra for six years. He has also performed with the San Francisco Symphony, the London Symphony of Canada, and the Oklahoma City Symphony, as well as serving as guest principal with the orchestras of Indianapolis and Hong Kong.

He has performed as soloist with the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, the Oklahoma City Symphony, the London Symphony of Canada, the Midsummer Mozart Festival (San Francisco), and numerous community orchestras in Northern California and Minnesota. He has also been featured on American Public Radio's nationally broadcast show "St. Paul Sunday Morning" on several occasions.

Mr. Levine has been an active chamber musician, having performed at the Festival Rolandseck in Germany, the Grand Teton Music Festival, the Palm Beach Festival, the "Strings in the Mountains" Festival in Colorado, and numerous concerts in the Twin Cities and Milwaukee. He has also been active in the field of new music, having commissioned and premiered works for viola and orchestra from Minnesota composers Janika Vandervelde and Libby Larsen.

Mr. Levine was chairman of the International Conference of Symphony and Opera Musicians from 1996 to 2002 and currently serves as President of the Milwaukee Musicians Association, Local 8 of the American Federation of Musicians, and as a member of the Board of Directors of the League of American Orchestras. He has written extensively about issues concerning orchestra musicians for publications of ICSOM, the AFM, the Symphony Orchestra Institute, and the League of American Orchestras.

Mr. Levine attended Stanford University and the Institute for Advanced Musical Studies in Switzerland. His primary teachers were Aaron Sten and Pamela Goldsmith. He also studied with Paul Doctor, Walter Trampler, Bruno Giuranna, and David Abel.

He lives with his wife Emily and his son Sam in Glendale.

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