Background

For the past decade we have been deeply involved in bringing science to the general public through the medium of the arts – theater, dance, music, fine art. We have developed a series entitled Science & the Arts at The Graduate Center of the City University of New York that annually presents twelve or more events, free to the public, dealing with the sciences, engineering and technology through arts performances and/or shows (see http://web.gc.cuny.edu/sciart/index.htm). In 1999 a series of symposia were organized in conjunction with the New York opening of the play Copenhagen that dealt with the science, history and art of the play. The symposia attracted thousands of non‐scientists, was reviewed extensively in the New York Times and other publications, and was credited with extending the run of the show on Broadway. When Copenhagen toured the country, we provided a model for the development of similar symposia in major U. S. cities.

Objective

Our objective is to use creative opportunities to bring science to the general public for purposes of educating non‐scientists and young people, as we did with our Copenhagen activities and as we do with our Science & the Arts series.

Method

Now, with the opera Dr. Atomic, we are planning a collaboration between the Metropolitan Opera and The Graduate Center to bring science to new audiences through the opera and "The Metropolitan Opera: Live in HD." In the fall of 2008, the new opera, Dr. Atomic by the composer John Adams will debut at the Metropolitan Opera in New York City. Dr. Atomic explores the final days of the development the atomic bomb in Los Alamos and the test on July 16, 1945 at Alamagordo, New Mexico. The main characters in the opera are J. Robert Oppenheimer, director of the Manhattan Project, General Leslie Groves, manager of the Manhattan Project, and Robert Wilson and Edward Teller, two physicists working at Los Alamos. During the intermission period between acts in the opera we are developing a special science‐related program for the theater audiences that will focus on the role of science and scientists in the development of the atomic bomb that was to end World War II. In addition, we shall plan for symposia at the Metropolitan Opera, The Graduate Center, and other venues that will focus on the science, history and art of Dr. Atomic.

Result

What is unique about this opportunity is the potential of reaching new sectors of the public market which usually do not attend science‐related programming, watch NOVA, or go to science museums. "The Metropolitan Opera: Live in HD" is a critically‐acclaimed series of operas performed at the Met and transmitted live, in high‐definition, into movie theaters around the world. The Met's inaugural series of High‐Definition transmissions in 2006‐07 captured international headlines, reaching 325,000 audience members. The Los Angeles Times wrote: "The Met's experiment of merging film with live performances has created a new art form. This venture may be the most significant development in opera since the supertitle." It is anticipated that by 2008 the series will reach more than 500 movie theaters and performing arts centers in the United States alone.

Conclusion

By working with the Metropolitan Opera to use all of these venues and technologies ‐ including public television, podcasts and streaming video ‐ we will bring the extraordinary new opera, Dr. Atomic, and the related science programming, to huge, new, non‐science audiences around the country and throughout the world.

">
 [PCST]
PCST Network

Public Communication of Science and Technology

 

Being opportunistic in bringing science to the general public
The medium is opera, the message is science

Brian Schwartz   The Graduate Center of City University of New York

Linda Merman   The Graduate Center of City University of New York

Adrienne Klein   The Graduate Center of City University of New York

Background

For the past decade we have been deeply involved in bringing science to the general public through the medium of the arts – theater, dance, music, fine art. We have developed a series entitled Science & the Arts at The Graduate Center of the City University of New York that annually presents twelve or more events, free to the public, dealing with the sciences, engineering and technology through arts performances and/or shows (see http://web.gc.cuny.edu/sciart/index.htm). In 1999 a series of symposia were organized in conjunction with the New York opening of the play Copenhagen that dealt with the science, history and art of the play. The symposia attracted thousands of non‐scientists, was reviewed extensively in the New York Times and other publications, and was credited with extending the run of the show on Broadway. When Copenhagen toured the country, we provided a model for the development of similar symposia in major U. S. cities.

Objective

Our objective is to use creative opportunities to bring science to the general public for purposes of educating non‐scientists and young people, as we did with our Copenhagen activities and as we do with our Science & the Arts series.

Method

Now, with the opera Dr. Atomic, we are planning a collaboration between the Metropolitan Opera and The Graduate Center to bring science to new audiences through the opera and "The Metropolitan Opera: Live in HD." In the fall of 2008, the new opera, Dr. Atomic by the composer John Adams will debut at the Metropolitan Opera in New York City. Dr. Atomic explores the final days of the development the atomic bomb in Los Alamos and the test on July 16, 1945 at Alamagordo, New Mexico. The main characters in the opera are J. Robert Oppenheimer, director of the Manhattan Project, General Leslie Groves, manager of the Manhattan Project, and Robert Wilson and Edward Teller, two physicists working at Los Alamos. During the intermission period between acts in the opera we are developing a special science‐related program for the theater audiences that will focus on the role of science and scientists in the development of the atomic bomb that was to end World War II. In addition, we shall plan for symposia at the Metropolitan Opera, The Graduate Center, and other venues that will focus on the science, history and art of Dr. Atomic.

Result

What is unique about this opportunity is the potential of reaching new sectors of the public market which usually do not attend science‐related programming, watch NOVA, or go to science museums. "The Metropolitan Opera: Live in HD" is a critically‐acclaimed series of operas performed at the Met and transmitted live, in high‐definition, into movie theaters around the world. The Met's inaugural series of High‐Definition transmissions in 2006‐07 captured international headlines, reaching 325,000 audience members. The Los Angeles Times wrote: "The Met's experiment of merging film with live performances has created a new art form. This venture may be the most significant development in opera since the supertitle." It is anticipated that by 2008 the series will reach more than 500 movie theaters and performing arts centers in the United States alone.

Conclusion

By working with the Metropolitan Opera to use all of these venues and technologies ‐ including public television, podcasts and streaming video ‐ we will bring the extraordinary new opera, Dr. Atomic, and the related science programming, to huge, new, non‐science audiences around the country and throughout the world.

A copy of the full paper has not yet been submitted.

BACK TO TOP