The Philadelphia Orchestra gave its first-ever performance of Richard Strauss’s opera Elektra on May 10. This 110-minute work astonished concertgoers when it premiered in 1909, and still leaves audiences reeling even today, over 100 years later. Significantly, this concert also marked the first time we opened iNotes testing to the public.
If you attended a Philadelphia Orchestra concert a couple of months ago and perused the program book, you may have read a Playbill article that previewed these performances of Elektra. The article was titled “A Revolution in the Opera House”—perhaps an appropriate, though unintentional, portent of the Orchestra’s iNotes testing in Verizon Hall around the first of those May concerts.
An initial internal round of testing took place prior to the performances during an open rehearsal of Elektra on May 9 and, as with the public test on May 10, focused mainly on the iNotes app’s ability to display supertitles in real time. Kimmel Center and Ticket Philadelphia staff, along with members of the Orchestra’s marketing, development, and IT departments, sat in Verizon Hall’s Second Tier to experience iNotes during the rehearsal—some for the very first time.
The official test occurred during the May 10 performance itself, and we opened testing that night to a select group of internal stakeholders and Orchestra Board members. Some of our previous blog posts have highlighted many of the interesting challenges faced by our iNotes team throughout the lifetime of this project; one would be hard pressed to argue that the case was any different for this first public test.
We’d be lying if we said that the iNotes app functioned perfectly on May 10 (mainly some glitches in supertitle synchronization)—and that’s exactly why tests like this are so important. Afterwards we solicited feedback from our participating testers to glean outside perspectives on the overall iNotes experience, as well as any issues they may have encountered during the performance. With a fresh round of comments, suggestions, and critiques in hand, there’s still more tinkering to do as we continue honing our app.