A Full-Length Opera Devised, Developed and Designed by the Crowd

Published Jan-27-12

Opera lovers devise the first opera to be created by an online community.

Savonlinna Opera Festival, Finland

The Story:

A Full-Length Opera Devised, Developed and Designed by the Crowd Crowdsourcing and open innovation take centre stage with a project to create a full-length opera in an online community.

Since 2010 The Opera by You initiative has been drawing on ideas for music, plot, lyrics, dialogue and staging from a crowd of opera enthusiasts for a live opera that will debut at Finland’s Savonlinna Opera Festival in summer 2012.

It will be performed in the stunning setting of St. Olaf's castle by an 80 member choir and a symphony orchestra, and every aspect of the opera is being crowdsourced. There are four development phases, some of which overlap:

1) The plot and synopsis
2) The detailed script (libretto).
3) The composition
4) The visualization - stage sets, lighting and wardrobe. This includes community votes for what the characters will look like with a variety of styles up for grabs including Lady Gaga style costumes to traditional office dress.


The online community can submit their ideas via the Opera by You website and the Wreckamovie website, a crowdsourcing platform to help people develop projects such as short films and documentaries.

Thousands of submissions have been received from 40 countries including India, Guatemala, Argentina, South Africa and the United States and range from simple comments and votes (during the process various works in progress are put up on the community website for people to comment on) to considerable music and script involvement.

The community is naturally made up of people with classical music and opera experience, but also of people with little or no musical hinterland to call upon.

"Through this project we (hope to) tempt new people into the world of opera," organisers said in a statement.

Plot and Synopsis

The crowd first collaborated on the opera’s plot and name. They selected the title 'Free Will' and the story finds God fed up with all the misery and suffering that he sees and so he convenes a meeting with the angels to decide what to do. They come up with a plan to send a few dead geniuses such as Oscar Wide and Amadeus Mozart back to Earth to make things better and create world peace. But will they succeed in their mission?


The opera by open innovation is being overseen by five operatives who are all experienced opera professionals (a composer, a stage director, a script writer, a production specialist and a visualization expert). They guide the creative process, help to select the best ideas and send ‘developing’ tasks back to the community to be worked on.

Although the community has been a very active one, only a small number of individuals have participated across all production lines.

Intellectual property issues have been avoided as every member of the online community signed a user agreement and had to agree to Wreackamovie’s terms of use where each member surrenders all rights to the project.

In return for their involvement every community member is entered into a draw for a chance to win a trip to the opera festival (July 5- August 4, 2012).


The opera will be performed three times during the summer of 2012 and will be exported if there is interest from opera houses.

Overall, members of the public will have written the script, composed the music, designed the costumes and sets and planned all aspects of this unique open innovation project.

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