CAL Lecture: Mark Schubin '71, "The Fandom of the Opera: How the Audience for a Centuries-Old Art Form Helped Create Modern Media Technology"
Thursday, October 30, 2014 – ( 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm )
Location: Bissinger Room, Howe 4th Floor, Stevens Institute of Technology
Believe it or not, electronic home entertainment was invented for opera audiences. So were consumer headphones, movies, newscasts, and pay-cable. The first sportscasts were in opera houses. The first wireless broadcast? The first commercial digital recording? The first live subtitles? All opera.
The idea of transmitting opera motion pictures and sounds live to theaters worldwide appeared in print in 1877, to homes in 1882. Without opera, there might not be communications satellites. And, according to pioneering radiologist Percy Brown, “No opera, no X-rays!”
The first opera recordings were made 17 years before Edison’s first phonograph, and 76 years before that an automaton played opera music for Marie Antoinette. In the 21st century, labs around the world are working on ultra-high-speed communications systems for opera and have discussed neutrino communications and quantum entanglement.
Galileo, Kepler, Lavoisier, Matisse – all had opera-technology connections. Stereo sound? The laryngoscope? Broadcast rights? All for opera. Really. Come and be amazed.
Multiple-Emmy-award-winning Mark Schubin ‘71 has been working professionally in media technology since 1967 and writing about its history since 1972. He has shot for the Rolling Stones, lit Philadelphia's Academy of Music, mixed Stevie Wonder, hooked up the TV in Eric Clapton's bedroom, and performed forensic analysis for the Woody Allen/Mia Farrow child-custody battle.
Visiting all seven continents, Schubin has also sung at most of the great opera houses of the world, appeared inside the penguin enclosure of the Central Park Zoo, and piloted a blimp from Coney Island to the Statue of Liberty.