Opera Carolina was tapped to be part of Google’s worldwide arts and culture platform

It’s hard to remember where we went for information before Google. 

People of a certain age recall looking things up in the encyclopedia. Now, we need only type something into Google’s search bar, and answers – from multiple sources – appear in a fraction of a second. Google has become integrated into our daily lives.

So when Google approached Opera Carolina Marketing Director Megan Miller early this year about being part of their arts platform, Google Arts & Culture, she didn’t have to think more than a fraction of a second before saying “yes.” 

The online platform allows the public a free and easy way to view high-resolution images and videos of art and cultural artifacts from partner cultural organizations around the world. 

When Miller Googled (what else?) the platform, she discovered the only American opera company listed so far was the Metropolitan – and figured that was good company to be in. 

Being part of Google Arts & Culture is good marketing, but Miller likes it for other reasons. “It will be a great educational tool and a great way to preserve our history,” she said. “We have tons of old photos – actual printed photographs – and partnering with Google has been the impetus for us to digitize them all. Being part of Google assures us they will be saved for posterity.” 

“And the photos are just the first phase,” she said. “In phase two, we’ll be loading video to the platform. This platform is going to allow people to get a true behind-the-scenes look at every opera we’ve produced going back to 2002.” 

There are scores of professionally shot photos dating back nearly 20 years for every production. And there are more photos that date back to the 1960s when Opera Carolina was known as the Charlotte Music Club. All of it will eventually be available through a Google search. 

Going through all those photos, scanning and uploading them is a massive undertaking. And most of it’s being done by Sofia Rohlman, a summer intern who’s heading to Appalachian State University this fall to major in music performance. “We couldn’t do this without Sofia,” Miller said.  

Once all the content is uploaded and live, it will be a vast public database of Opera Carolina’s history. The timing of Google’s call turned out to be serendipitous. Opera Carolina staff is devoting a lot of time these days to researching how to make operas, or portions of them, available online.

Miller, who has to be forward-thinking in her job – always thinking ahead to the next opera and the next season – is enjoying the opportunity to look back. “This online archive is something that will outlast everyone who’s currently on staff,” she said. “I love knowing that we’re creating something that future generations will benefit from.”