The Hazards of Crowdsourcing an Opera

4 Jul

We’ve seen examples of people using crowdsourcing to create new works of art and music, but this is a whole different scale.

Opera By You 2012

Premiering at the Savonlinna Opera Festival in Finland this summer, the opera titled “Free Will” has been created at the hands of hundreds of theater fanatics. Through the careful cultivation of artistic direction, design elements, and human resources, guided by the vigilant eye of a team of opera experts, a full-formed opera has all but sprung forth from this campaign, appropriately entitled “Opera By You”.

The single most surprising aspect of this project, to me, is that it seems wildly successful so far. There are a lot of things that can go wrong with creative collaboration, especially at this scale, so seeing everything run smoothly so far elicited a big sigh of relief.

The fact that they have a team of operatic experts spearheading the thing and exercising ultimate creative control is a big advantage. This may seem counter-intuitive; isn’t the point of crowdsourcing that everyone’s contributions are weighed equally and no one’s in charge?

© 2012 Svilen Milev

Sometimes. But trust me; as an individual that has participated in his fair share of theater performances, a consistent artistic direction is everything. Without that, you have actors wearing 1960s New York garb in front of a Renaissance backdrop, speaking in British accents, and cracking jokes during serious scenes.

I exaggerate, but you get this idea; for the opera to be anything but a jumbled mass of disjointed ideas, some sort of leadership was necessary to step in and say, “We want it like this; you fill in the rest.” When a product is typically produced in a very specific way, it’s important to bring aspects of that practice to the crowdsourcing process as well.

Speaking of process, it’s just about wrapped up now. Rehearsals are underway, the crowdsourcing focus has shifted to developing the opera’s marketing campaign, and the opening night of July 21st is fast approaching. Will this crowdsourced fantasy become a wildly popular reality? Guess we’ll find out in a few weeks.

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2 Responses to “The Hazards of Crowdsourcing an Opera”

  1. Kela July 27, 2012 at 7:31 am #

    Hei, I was one of the librettists, my partner one of the composers. Did you listen to the online live broadcast of the final production? It’s still up on the http://www.hs.fi site. We’d love to know what you think of it. The audience at the performance gave it a 10 minute ovation!

    • Seth W July 27, 2012 at 1:17 pm #

      Wow, congratulations! That sounds amazing! I tried to find the broadcast on that site, but the Finnish made it difficult… do you have a direct link to the performance?

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