Everything you need to know about The Opera Platform
Who originated the project and why?
The Opera Platform is a joint initiative by Opera Europa and ARTE. For Opera Europa, the project meets the network’s ambitions to support the development of opera, and the work of opera companies of all sizes throughout Europe, in very practical ways. The project builds on the network’s other initiatives (such as the European Opera Days) that aim not only to facilitate the development of its member companies but also to promote the art form of opera to a wider public.
Fifteen opera houses are pioneering The Opera Platform. How were the 15 partner theatre companies selected? Can others opera houses be part of the project?
Fifteen opera houses are pioneering this project alongside Opera Europa and ARTE. As a partnership of 17 institutions, our project is quite exceptional for the European Commission. Rarely do so many organisations come together to cooperate on a European scale, indeed twenty is the maximum allowed under the EC’s Creative Europe scheme.
The project partners were selected by Opera Europa to represent a cross section of the network’s membership.
It was important to bring together theatres from a variety of different countries: 12 in all. As the project aims to enable the partners to produce high quality digital content, Opera Europa was particularly keen to gather members whose digital operations are at very different stages of development.
The Royal Opera House Covent Garden and Wiener Staatsoper both have considerable experience in streaming their productions online. Others in the partnership are relatively inexperienced and, through this project – built around cooperation and exchange – they will acquire new skills and negotiate new agreements with their rights’ holders to enable them to pursue digital strategies. These learnings will be shared with Opera Europa’s wider membership to develop and strengthen the sector as a whole.
While it would not have been possible to work with more opera houses in the framework of an EC funding programme, Opera Europa and all the partners are keen to see this platform serve the whole of the opera sector in Europe. For this reason, Opera Europa has encouraged the 160 member opera houses/ festivals/ companies of Opera Europa to contribute content (full operas, extracts and behind the scenes material) to the platform from its launch. At launch, the platform will feature content from more than the 15 partners. This aspect of the project will grow in the coming years.
How does this project address common concerns about rights in the digital age?
The project aims is to find some common solutions to points of concern. Over the course of this three-year project, Opera Europa will bring together stakeholders (artists, agents, publishers, broadcasters, film producers, distributers) to look for practical solutions to rights and other issues.
The project aims to:
Rights: Find pan-European cross-sector solutions to issues relating to opera in the web environment that have previously been treated inconclusively at a national level.
Skills: Enhance the opera sector’s capacity to commission and/or produce digital content.
Financial models: Enable the opera sector to put in place viable economic models for digital content.
Dissemination: Encourage Europe’s opera companies to pool part of their digital content on a single pilot platform and share the finding across the opera sector and beyond.
What is ARTE’s role in The Opera Platform?
ARTE is a key partner in the conception and realisation of this project. ARTE has a role not only in building but also promoting the platform. ARTE is responsible for the technical development of the platform and the subtitling of the main showcase operas on the platform in six languages; all the partners have benefited from ARTE’s experience in this area. ARTE also has a role in telling people about the platform and using its considerable reach to attract visitors to the platform. To that purpose, the main showcase operas shown on The Opera Platform for six months will be streamed in parallel on ARTE Concert, usually for the first month. This will help the platform and its contents find their audience.
How are the operas that are streamed on The Opera Platform chosen?
The Opera Platform is managed on a daily basis by a small team of staff from Opera Europa and ARTE. The choice of each full-length showcase opera is reviewed by a group representative of the partnership: this editorial group advises on the editorial line of the platform. The group is keen to promote the specificity of opera in that theatre, whether in terms of repertoire, artistic teams or style of production.
The additional contextual content on the platform is chosen to add short insights to the work of an opera house/festival or the making of a particular production – for those who love the art form or those who may be discovering it for the first time.