A big scale community opera production
Exploring opera and co-creation
In bringing co-creation to opera, the organisations leading each exploratory opera drew on ideas and methods with long roots in cultural education, and on the more recent innovations of the community arts movement.
These rich and well-tested techniques were a strong foundation on which to experiment with new methods and tools, including digital technology, in each project’s unique situation.
The three operas varied widely in their social context, culture, resources, scale and artistic vision. This diversity enabled Traction to test ideas across a range of situations and helped identify the common ground that inform the guiding principles. It also demonstrated the adaptability and viability of co-creation.
In Barcelona, the historic Liceu opera house worked with 1,000 people from its own tough multicultural neighbourhood, Raval, to co-create a grand opera that challenged stereotypes and celebrated resilience, diversity and new voices.
In Portugal, the SAMP music school involved the whole community of a youth training prison—inmates, relatives and staff—in a co-creation based on the story of Ulysses and Penelope, using innovative digital tools to combine participants performing together inside and outside the prison walls.
In Ireland, Irish National Opera worked with 100 people from across the nation to co-create the world’s first virtual reality community opera, transforming ancient Irish folk tales into a contemporary fable about climate change.
None of this was easy and it wasn’t always successful.
We tried things that did not work, or not as we expected. And we did it in a global pandemic that prevented us from meeting face to face for much of the time. Even so, thanks to the tenacious creativity of everyone involved, and to the intrinsic resilience of co-creation, we came through, breathless and laughing.
Each of the operas broke new ground. Each taught us many lessons. Each is described in detail in these pages, with plenty of photos and videos. And if you’d like more details about the productions, please get in touch with the lead organisations.