SFCM Student Brings Opera into the Metaverse
Master’s student Joseph Calzada is behind the technology that brings opera and classical music into virtual reality (VR), allowing audiences all over the world to experience music universally.
By Mark Taylor
Like many great ideas, it started in the shower.
“I was singing and thought, ‘I wish people could hear me right now', and wondered if there was a platform where I could sing to a worldwide audience without leaving the comfort of my home?” said SFCM student Joseph Calzada.
And Mousaverse was born. Inspired by Greek muses, the inspirational goddesses of literature, science, and the arts, the platform moves classical music and technology forward together. Calling itself an immersive opera concert experience, users are able to perform and watch live performances of singers and collaborators virtually via avatars. “There are people all over the world that want to showcase their work, and now they can do this from anywhere,” Calzada said.
Back in January 2022, Calzada started working with automation agency, Sumeru Inc, to work on the technology side. “Our cutting-edge technological advancements truly bring elements of real-life performance to our virtual world,” Calzada continued. “Right now if anyone wants to sing in Mousaverse, they can enter as a singer and go to the stage and sing for whoever is in the audience or in that server.” After months of work, the platform went live at the end of 2022 and is currently available on iOS, Android, PC, and MAC.
“The goal is really to build a platform where artists can promote their music in a worldwide atmosphere in the highest fidelity that technology allows,” Calzada said. The self-funded platform is completely free, but as its popularity grows, Calzada has plans to develop a ticketing system for performances: “The amount hasn’t been set, but will be significantly cheaper than a normal in-person performance. With this, we hope to make it more accessible to users worldwide.”
In addition to taking the opera experience into the metaverse, Calzada is a first-year master’s student studying with César Ulloa, and doing both is no easy task. “Both of these are priorities for me,” Calzada said. “It’s a lot of juggling,”
For its first online productions, Mousaverse is presenting Cavalleria Rusticana and Ariadne auf Naxos later this year, which will include SFCM voice student Cassi Gardner. “We had applicants from 22 different countries represented in our application pool to be in our operas,” Calzada continued, “and they don't have to travel anywhere.” According to Calzada the platform has tracked hundreds of live singing sessions since its launch.
Still a student at SFCM, Calzada plans to continue to develop his voice as a musician, but also is working towards bringing opera into the next century, and in doing so introducing more and more people to the art form. He believes Mousaverse is the technology that will do just that: “We are still new, and it’s growing, but I have confidence that this will bring people new people into the classical music sphere”