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What it is

It was in the United States of America in the late 1980s that the first “Write an Opera” projects appeared. The original incubator was the New York MET, and the initial project was designed by professionals in the area… for professionals in the area, with the aim of allowing them to experiment with all the aspects of this production, or at least some aspects different from those in their specific line of work. The idea was to give the professionals an insight into all the ins and outs of an opera, and for them to develop skills in areas other than their specialty area in order to increase levels of effectiveness and interdisciplinarity at work. For example, stage managers would work as actors/singers, orchestra musicians were put in charge of technical work (lighting and sound, for example), technical staff playing an instrument and singers designing costumes and in charge of the scenography for the final show. This performance was aimed at the staff of the Opera – closed to the public – and was primarily entertaining and satirical in nature, according to statements from professionals involved in some of these “interim” productions.

It was at the beginning of the millennium that this methodology was imported by the ROH in London, which extended it in terms of usability, removing it from the professional opera sphere and extending it to people as varied as members of the boards of big companies and mainstream teachers and students. The ROH also took this training outside, transporting all the necessary logistics to a work/intervention context aimed at eliminating any constraints among the participants, sometimes overwhelmed by so much technical apparatus and preconceptions of the seriousness implicit to the opera genre and that the facilities of the ROH were unable to dislodge.

Generally speaking, this methodology is based on dialogue between the participants and the appreciation of their ideas and contributions to the final product. There is no final construct a priori, so all the expertise that goes into the final product will be built and not acquired, questioned and not transmitted by someone else. It will come from the group and not one individual with the expertise and whose role is also accepted as apriorism.

All the individuals work as a group and go through a predetermined series of stages, all on the various parts of an opera: script, libretto, construction and characterisation of characters, music, costumes, scenography, staging, stage management, sound and lighting, production and management, advertising and marketing. Apart from the contribution of the first group in each part, the next group works on the contribution of the group before them. Then the sum of this work is the basis from which the next group makes their contribution. It is, therefore, a cumulative process and appeals to negotiation and constant dialogue as well as personal and professional skills in group work.

WASO is no more, no less than an extension of the “Write An Opera” method to the field of science, making it “Write A Science Opera”. Science is the element that brings together a variety of information and experience, inspiring a multidisciplinary artistic approach (Ben-Horin, 2014). In a WASO project, first a theme is selected to be the focus of the performance and the catalyst for the entire creative dimension, culminating in a small opera as the final product. The entire process is guided by advisers/trainers in areas as different as music, theatre or even science, appealing to the multidisciplinary nature of knowledge. All the aspects mentioned above are left in the hands of the students for them to implement during the process, appealing to the development of their sense of responsibility and independence.

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