Opera is a performing art that belongs to the European cultural heritage and represents one of the highest examples of musical creativity; moreover it is a very specialized genre and therefore needs highly specialized artistic skills to be performed. In recent times, Opera and theatre in general are suffering from the competition of other (more popular) forms of entertainment, and Opera in particular is perceived as something “difficult”, to be appreciated by a specialized public only.
Certainly the bel canto is not very easy to access without a preliminary preparation on the libretto, which allows the listener to understand the lyrics and – consequently – the whole story of the performance. Opera is something that requires a certain preparation in advance to be enjoyed at full.
According to the results of the latest Cultural Access and Participation Eurobarometer survey (Special Eurobarometer 399 / Wave EB79.2 – TNS Opinion & Social, 2013), there is to be found a decline in the participation to cultural activities in general (besides cinema) and, if the main reason is found in the lack of time and money, for ballet, theatre and opera more than half of the people stated that they didn’t see any performance because of a lack of interest. Only 18% of people assisted to an opera or a ballet (Directorate-General for education and culture, Cultural Values - 2007, European Community, Bruxelles 2007, p. 9).
Moreover, the low participation to the opera is also related to the age of the population: if the average is around 18%, after 2003 only 4% of the population from 15 to 24 years old and 7% of the population between 25 and 39 years old did assist to an Opera (Eurobarometer, New Europeans and Culture. Public opinion in the candidate countries…cit., pp. 110-111).
In the context of the 2018 as the year of the Cultural Heritage, Opera InCanto aims to the future of the opera by developing the youngest audience (form 6 to 13 years old) and, through them, the families.
Opera InCanto aims directly to the problem of the lack of interest as its members believe that the strength of the opera comes from its magic, from the size and the quality of the work behind it. Through the active involvement of children first in the classroom activities, then on stage, and with the support of digital tools and editorial materials, it is possible to make Opera easier, more attractive and lively. Opera InCanto will reach the children not only through the active artistic involvement, but also showing the complexity of the background activities that precede the show. This approach of playful co-creation will have an unforgettable impact on children and on their families too, paving the way to an enlarged appreciation of Opera and theatre in general. Families who have never enjoyed one, or even have never entered a theatre before, will be encouraged to discover the beauty and richness of Opera, and thanks to this experience will be encouraged and stimulated to seek for more. Europe InCanto, the project leader, has started this artistic methodology in 2012. On the fifth years results were outstanding: more than 54.000 children involved, plus their families, more than 4000 teachers involved. The consortium decided therefore to work on an international scale, through a co-production and involving an international cast of young artists.