INO Announces Partnership in Traction

Tuesday, 3 March, 2020
Traction Kick Off Photo Copy

Irish National Opera is proud to announce participation in TRACTION – Opera co-creation for social transformation.


Irish National Opera is a new organisation, founded in 2018. Unlike many of Europe’s major opera companies, we don’t have centuries of tradition. Instead we have a clean slate and an unprecedented opportunity to establish our own identity, remit and values. Our freedom from institutional responsibilities allows us to look afresh at opera and ask questions including what role opera has in people’s lives. Why is it relevant now in the 21st Century? How can we expand the reach, impact and accessibility of the artform that we love? Are there other ways of experiencing opera beyond the 24 Irish venues in which we perform?

Questions like this drew us to Traction – a pan-European meeting point of opera, new technologies, social transformation and research. Traction is a 3-year EU-funded initiative (2020-2022) that will lead to new ways of engaging with opera in Spain, Portugal and Ireland.

Irish National Opera plans to create an innovative operatic work using new immersive technologies for presentation in 2022. The operas will be drawn from the experiences of three communities that currently have little or no connection to opera as an artform; Migrant communities in Tallaght through partnership with Civic Theatre; rural communities through partnership with Music Generation Offaly/Westmeath and Gaelteacht communities through partnership with Conradh Na Gaeilge. Each community will work on many different facets of creating opera; including music, libretto, performance, production, design etc.; working with professional opera practitioners over a sustained period of engagement to co-create a new opera that represents their stories and experiences. A specially designed research process, overseen by expert in participatory art François Matarasso and the University of Barcelona, will track the effects of this engagement to measure skill development and social transformation.

The new opera will be designed and conceived as a Virtual Reality experience and we are partnering with a number of technology experts, including Virtual Reality Ireland, Dublin City University, Vicomtech and Centrum Wiskunde & Informatica, to maximise the use of existing immersive technologies and to research and develop new technologies to enhance the co-creation experience. The result will be a unique VR opera experience that will be part of Irish National Opera’s artistic offering to audiences in many new contexts in the future.

In Spain, Liceu Opera in Barcelona will co-create a community opera with migrants resident in the Raval district of the city and in Portugal, SAMP will co-create an opera with young prison inmates.

“Traction is a major opportunity for Irish National Opera to think outside the box. Our mission is to make opera a central part of Ireland’s creative voice. With this project we engage new communities in the creation and love of opera. We overcome barriers of geography, language and social exclusion. We demonstrate opera’s capacity to re-invent itself and to embrace new technology. Through research we will establish something that we instinctively know ourselves – that opera can have hugely positive effects both on individuals in their own lives, and more broadly for society as a whole.” - Fergus Sheil, Artistic Director of Irish National Opera.

“We do not want to make opera palatable to those who don’t attend. We want to define new forms of artistic creation through which the most marginalised groups (migrants, the rural poor, young offenders and others), can work with artists to tell the stories that matter now." - Mikel Zorrilla, VICOMTECH

You can find out more about the project and the partners via the Traction website here.