Òpera Oberta and research and education networks, like RedIRIS, bring opera to students across the world

High capacity networks work together to broadcast performances to universities around the globe

Allowing students interested in the arts to experience cultural performances is central to sharing knowledge and helping them learn. However the scale and size of many productions, such as operas, mean that they cannot be staged locally due to a lack of resources and budget.

To bridge this gap and help make opera better known to students all around the world, the Gran Teatre del Liceu in Barcelona has created the Òpera Oberta programme. This produces and broadcasts high quality operatic performances to students in over 40 universities around the world. Since its foundation in 2001, Òpera Oberta has grown rapidly, and now has an average of 1,300 students from universities in Europe and Latin America watching every broadcast. Each performance is supported by a full package of learning materials, including a lecture before each opera outlining the plot and background, images and archived documentation. Students receive course credits for their virtual attendance, with every performance streamed simultaneously to all participating institutions.

The number of universities involved and their locations across the globe make simultaneous transmission a technical challenge. This is solved through a collaboration between a growing number of National Research and Education Networks (NRENs) and their international counterparts.

Broadcast files are first sent using multicast IP from the Liceu to the Catalan Research and Education Network, managed by CSUC, which is connected to the Spanish RedIRIS network. The high speed pan-European GÉANT network then transmits the performances across the continent to NRENs in individual countries, such as GRNET in Greece, and, worldwide through its global links to networks in other regions. For example, in Latin America the RedCLARA network then distributes the broadcast to the NRENs of Columbia (RENATA), Mexico (CUDI) and Ecuador (CEDIA). The NRENs then transmit the opera to individual universities in each country. The advanced multicast IP technology used makes it possible to send the same stream simultaneously to all participating institutions, wherever they are located, reducing complexity and minimising delays.

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