A cell phone-powered ‘thunderstorm’ strikes this Saturday

Opera Philadelphia's "Opera on the Mall" wants you to be part of the show.

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Opera on the Mall, Opera Philadelphia’s annual free outdoor broadcast of its opening night performance of Barber of Seville, is letting the audience be part of the staging this Saturday.

In the second act, audience members can use their phones to access a web app, which will flash to create a lightning-like effect during a scene with a thunderstorm, said Youngmoo Kim, the Drexel professor who’s spending his sabbatical working with Opera Philadelphia.

Mockup-Opera on the Mall

A mockup of what the cellphone-powered “storm” will look like. (Photo courtesy of Opera Philadelphia)

It’s another way that the opera company is experimenting with technology and audience engagement — remember their “Twitter box”?

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There are more than 9,000 people registered to attend Opera on the Mall, said Opera Philadelphia spokesman Frank Luzi. The opera company is expecting it to be the biggest one yet.

The light display is not unlike the technology used by Baltimore startup Wham City Lights.

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