Watch Vienna’s new HDR – better than the Met?

From tonight, the Vienna Opera will be streaming in ultra-high definition.

press release:

New dimension of WIENER STAATSOPER live at home:

La traviata in new HDR image mode for first time on 29 November

Today, Tuesday, 29 November 2016, the WIENER STAATSOPER’s live at home programme will be broadcasting Giuseppe Verdi’s La traviata for the first time ever as a live stream in UHD quality using the new HDR image mode, making it possible to achieve an unprecedented picture quality. The opera features a star-studded cast, with Marina Rebeka in the title role, Charles Castronovo as Alfredo, Dmitri Hvorostovsky as Giorgio Germont, all under the musical direction of maestra Speranza Scappucci.

HDR stands for “high dynamic range” and represents the latest revolution in television, making for even brighter, high-contrast images with greater depth of colour and a sharper picture. The new technology enhances areas of the image that were previously either too dark or too light. “This new technology opens up a new dimension for us. Particularly in opera, we are very often faced with dark backgrounds and brightly illuminated singers and stage scenery in the foreground. The human eye has no problem with this, and can see as much of the detail in both bright and dark areas. HDR now makes it possible to broadcast operas and ballets with the original lighting envisaged by the stage director without compromising the TV pictures or using additional TV lighting disturbing to the audience. Thus HDR delivers a whole new, fantastic quality at several levels! And we are delighted that we have once again been able to introduce a cutting-edge innovation in co-operation with Samsung,” explains Dominique Meyer, Director of Vienna State Opera.

Samsung, technical partner to the Wiener Staatsoper, has integrated this new image standard in its complete current SUHD TV and UHD TV range. An HDR-enabled Samsung TV set is required in order to be able to receive La traviata in HDR. “We have established yet another milestone in the development of streaming technology with the new UHD live stream in HDR mode. Samsung not only offers terminal equipment for this new standard, but also high-quality content in collaboration with the Wiener Staatsoper. The opera experience is transmitted to TV screens around the world not only with high-fidelity sound, but also in optimal visual quality,” says Sunghan Kim, Managing Director of Samsung Electronics Austria.

 

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  • If I were to choose on the basis of quality of transmission, I’d go for the better sound. Is that any better with HDR? The above press release is not very helpful on this matter.

    • My name is Christopher Widauer and I am responsible for Vienna State Operas live streaming programme. Allow me to reply on some of the comments here in this thread. To your question: No, we broadcast the same audio with our streams in Full HD, UHD or UHD HDR. However, we take great care in producing excellent sound quality – despite the fact that this is not easy in a repertory house, having an opera or ballet decoration on stage in the morning for a rehearsal, changed to a different one for the evening performance, ready to set mics in the pit and for the stage only shortly before the performance starts

      • Hi Chris – I just subscribed to livestream now and I am enjoying Arabella right now, on TV, and watching subtitle on my iPhone. My subscription is via AppleTV App, which automatically associates with my Apple ID. One question: I got on the website on my MacBook computer and tried to login the same account with email the same as my Apple ID. But your website does not recognize me as a subscriber already and still asks me to subscribe on computer. How do I pair my Mac with AppleTV based subscription account? Thanks!

  • Two things: One, their production of Traviata is lacklustre at best. And two, their subtitle system is stupid and annoying. Instead of on-screen subtitles you need to sync an iphone app to the sound of the broadcast and the subtitles scroll (badly out of sync I might add) on your phone.

    • Please let me comment on this as responsible for Vienna State Operas live streaming programme.
      When setting up our system, we decided for this kind of subtitling for several reasons: It reflects what we do in our house on displays built in the back of our seats; it works for live streaming on all kinds of devices, including SmartTVs, Apple TV and Amazon Fire TV; it allows you to scroll back – giving you the option of enjoying e.g. an aria without following the titles and then quickly check what it was about; a great proportion of viewers watching TV do use second screens anyway; and we definitely did not want to burn in the subtitles, distorting all the beautiful images.
      We regret to read, however, that you experienced titles out of sync. Please try to de-install and re-install the app on your device, and please let us know on what kind of device you had encountered the difficulties (iOS, Android, smartphone or tablet)- best with an email to concierge@wiener-staatsoper.at.
      Thank you!
      Christopher Widauer

  • I think this sort of high-tech thing can be a bit of a potlatch, to be honest. I don’t need to be able to count the pores on Cavaradossi’s nose to enjoy the opera for pete’s sake.

    • Once all the other video that one consumes is at a higher resolution, classical streaming will have to make the change as well just to avoid looking antiquated. Around the turn of the millennium the higher definition of DVD seemed amazing after the VHS era, but whenever I put on one of my classical DVDs these days, I still enjoy the music, but I can’t help but notice how primitive and pixelly DVD seems compared to first-generation Blu-Ray (which itself is showing its limitations if you’ve seen 4K). Vienna’s just keeping ahead of the curve.

      • Hi Chris – I just subscribed to livestream now and I am enjoying Arabella right now, on TV, and watching subtitle on my iPhone. My subscription is via AppleTV App, which automatically associates with my Apple ID. One question: I got on the website on my MacBook computer and tried to login the same account with email the same as my Apple ID. But your website does not recognize me as a subscriber already and still asks me to subscribe on computer. How do I pair my Mac with AppleTV based subscription account? Thanks!

  • If “sound” is the desideratum, the Vienna folks do not have much to beat by being better than the Met. The latter is so adroitly engineered in favor of the singers that even the least “present” voices can be heard over heavy orchestration. The latter often sounds as though it were coming from a nearby room slightly off-stageD. The effect, at least for someone who enjoys opera live in the big barn come what may, is close to disorienting. I guess it’s OK if you live thousands of miles away and it’s the only chance to see THEIR awful Traviata.

    • You may well be right…… but that is a matter of the mixing technique and nothing to do with the definition and/or bandwidth of the sound quality itself……

    • You may well be right….. but that is a matter the mixing technique and nothing to do with the definition and/or bandwidth of the actual sound quality itself……

  • My laptop isn’t good enough to receive this – I had a look at their free trial, and it was very jerky and would have been awful to watch or a long time. I enjoy the Met and the ROH performances in the cinema, so I would be very pleased if the Wiener Staatsoper would broadcast into the cinema too and not only on to people’s computers.

  • I certainly hope this isn’t meant to replace their Live am Platz presentations where the audience can sit outside and see everything projected on the big screen on the side of the Opernhaus. Except for those hawkers and their “Mozart concerts” and some ferals screeching around in cars and motorbikes, these performances are well-appreciated by tourists and locals.

  • The broadcast from Vienna will not be better than the MET shows, HDR on a flat screen or laptop at home will be no improvement. This stream must be compressed in order to fit our internet pipelines. Every signal compression deteriorates the original signal. Samsung wants to sell their next generation of TV sets !!!!!

    HDR has nothing to do with sound quality, this remains as before. The sound balance between soloist singers and the orchestra is not only a technical issue, it is also a matter of taste and always a compromise due to the radio microphones worn by the singers, which do not have the same quality as top notch studio microphones.

    A live broadcast will ALWAYS be a compromise, sometimes better, sometimes worse, depending on rehearsal time and many other circumstances.

  • I wish Vienna Staatsoper would sell their productions on DVD. I watched Romeo et Juliette and Don Pasquale streamed on TV. While much better than not seeing them it’s not ideal. To own the DVD would be so much better!

  • Last year there was only one opera in UHD. It is misleading to say that for 170 euro you get UHD opera because it is untrue. Combined with the archaic subtitle system my view is this is not as good as the Met. I won’t be subscribing for a second year – you can deceive me once but not twice.

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