Co-creating Opera: Presenting the learning from the Traction project

Regular visitors to this site (and its retiring companions) will know that I have spent much of the past three years working in the world of opera. It’s been wonderful, though I will only ever be a tourist in this land. It’s been challenging, but that isn’t a euphemism for difficult. It’s been a surprisingly trouble-free experience, if you discount the effect of the pandemic.  

But it has challenged my ideas, my assumptions and my ways of working, and so I have learned a lot. In fact I’ve learned more than I think I’ve been able to properly explain yet, especially about the personal, social, political and philosophical value that is produced when people get a chance to express themselves in art. Maybe, when that thinking has matured a bit more, I’ll find a way to write and share it.

For now, my colleagues and I have worked hard to make our learning from the Traction project available to everyone. We’ve created a new website to explain the process, filled with short films, downloadable resources and other materials. Among those is a book called Co-Creating Opera: Guidance from the Traction Project. This guide is not a dogma of what to do, but intended to suggest, propose, or make known, based on the experience of many people, what we consider important when starting a project with a community spirit.

A new Wiki holds the open-source software of Co-Creation Space and Co-Creation Stage that were used in the opera productions. The main Traction website will stay up as a repository for the dozens of academic and technical reports that have been produced during the three years. 

And the final public event of Traction will be held next Monday, 27 February 2023 at 15:00 (CET), at the Gran Teatre del Liceu in Barcelona. Attendees will be able to connect to this event online to follow the presentation. 

The session will last an hour and will consists of the following: 

  • Introduction by Valentí Oviedo, General Director of the Gran Teatre del Liceu 
  • Intervention by Mikel Zorrilla, Traction Project Leader and representative of the technological partner Vicomtech. 
  • Online intervention by François Matarasso, Social and Artistic Coordinator of the Traction project. 
  • Intervention by Irene Calvís, representative of the Liceu within the Traction project and Head of the LiceuApropa social programme. 
  • Intervention of Quimsaina Powers-Fernández, singer from the La gata perduda choir. 
  • Question and answer session with the connected attendees. 
  • Performance by 6 members of the La gata perduda choir. 

Traction focused on how opera can become more socially inclusive and connected to diverse communities. Co-creation­—which we define as the result of professional and non-professional artists working together on an equal basis—was at the heart of the project. Innovative digital technology was also used both to support that process and in the performances.  

The results—completely new operas staged in Barcelona, Leiria and Lisbon, as well as the world’s first VR community opera in Ireland—have exceeded our expectations, socially and artistically. The book and website offer pathways for others to explore, not only in opera, but across the performing arts and more widely. Opera is an extraordinary art that has thrived through constant renewal. We see co-creation as another step in that process.  


  1. Thanks so much Francois for swearing the link to this afternoon’s event from Barcelona…and great to see you are back in the participatory world of the arts! what a fantastic project. I shall now explore the website. I hope whoever is leading on the ACE Opera Review reads it…

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