Four years to get here, four weeks to go

Exactly a month from now, on 7 October 2022, the second and final performance of La Gata Perduda will happen at the Liceu Opera House in Barcelona. It has ben a four year journey, through a pandemic, slowly building confidence and belief. What began as a simple idea—’Let’s invite our neighbours to create an opera with us’—has become a huge operation involving thousands of people, community choirs, music schools, social services, occupational training centres, NGOs, an art school, universities, technology institutes and local businesses, alongside every member of staff in one of Europe’s largest and most venerable opera houses. This video from Catalonia’s TV3 gives a glimpse of what is happening.

Grand opera is a new world to me, as it is to most of the people who’ve contributed to the co-creation process, in the story, the posters, the music, the costumes, the stage design, and, above all, the performance. It is the exceptional skills of the professional artists that have carried everyone through, like life-jackets. It is the exceptional commitment of the non-professionals that has given the opera its purpose and its energy, and made it possible to bring the spirit of the Raval neighbourhood to such vital life. Hundreds of people have spent the spring and summer in an intensely demanding weekend rehearsal schedule, on top of the everyday commitments of work, school and family life.

I’ve followed their journey for three years now, observing and learning, offering what I could,. As time passed, and so many practical, artistic and human obstacles were overcome, my initial doubts about the project’s ambitions have fallen away. There are four weeks to go, but I’m convinced that what is being co-created at the Liceu is genuinely important—not only a great production but one that opens exciting and transformative new ways of creating opera for our time.

Getting here has been an immense effort, and many of the participants would like there to be more than two performances. So would I, but I believe that what matters in art is not how long it lasts but that it exists at all.La Gata Perduda is a seed planted in fertile soil. It will be growing many years from now.