April 24, 2013
Joaquim Iborra: "The project of the Lyceum and ESDI wanted bets and new looks, and the result is more than good"

Can you imagine the great operas of history in visual format? From Madama Butterfly to Il Turco in Italia through Das Rheingold (The Rhine Gold) and Lucio Silla, the frame stage. The agreement between the Gran Teatre del Liceu and ESDI has made it possible, once again. Students of visual design curricular pathways have submitted reviews of opera classics with the clear objective of making this more attractive genre for generations that they represent. Joaquim Iborra, Chief, Lyceum Publishing and documentation explains the project. How Liceu project with Design schools, and in particular with ESDi, is born? Liceu has always been interested in educational community participation. An example of that interest is Òpera Oberta (open opera) programme, started more than 10 years ago that currently broadcasts different operas live via internet as part of optional teachings of more than 30 universities in Spain, France, Andorra, Mexico and Colombia. In line with it, Liceu approaches design schools, ESDi among them, is not strange. Opera is a genre that reaches many of the artistic representation forms. We think that to this effect it has to be susceptible to interest those people that are studying, especially in all art and, of course, design aspects. With all schools a framework agreement was formulated, which can give room to many activities that we believe interesting to develop jointly. Currently we are developing the audiovisual microcapsules project, but we are studying other collaboration fields. Which is the objective of an initiative like that? With the current project we expect students approach one of the operas that will be performed at Liceu. The most important thing is to consider opera as a set of artistic expressions that depend on a common objective: to explain opera theme. From that perspective it is interesting that students realize that opera is also a genre that talks about very present themes, that talks about us. The development of these themes with its own language is a form of breaking stereotypes and approaching the genre with new ways of looking. The proposal is that students reinterpret one of the operas performed for the first time at Liceu. That fact allows you to approach opera to students? Opera is what it is; it is about considering it without preconceived ideas that move us away from its grandeur. Each one of us approaches the genre from our individual experience; we should not be scared of not understanding some of its codes, the most important thing is to enjoy, and learn from, the performance. Any initiative has to be welcomed, but not only in opera, all artistic and cultural genres have to be promoted. Is this also helpful to break clichés like opera is for old people or opera can be boring? In 1999, when Liceu opens its doors again after rebuilding, the used claim was "El Liceu de tots" (everybody’s Liceu). With that phrase we wanted to highlight two very important concepts: firstly that the Theatre was, finally, publicly owned and secondly, not less important, that performances, cultural creation carried out in there, were accessible to all citizenship. That idea has been transferred to the development of the institution following activities. Stereotypes and preconceived ideas are very difficult to banish (for example the cliché that Catalans are misers), information is the fundamental element to diminish the scope of those clichés. Which tools are given to students of the different design schools for them to start working? Are they predisposed or do they find it hard? Work carried out by students is included in the curriculum of the corresponding subject. Liceu acts, from this perspective, as another client. In a first joint meeting, the project and the possible elements to develop are presented. Students have, roughly speaking, a positive attitude, it cannot be in another way: along its professional career they must work with themes they like and other themes they do not like so much. The important thing in this case is the possibility of experimenting and learning. Has Liceu participated in the creative process? How was it? Liceu does not take part in the creative process, which is a specific task of the school and its professors, who has to determine the quality of the finished product and therefore whether it can be handed in to the client, that is, to us. Liceu contributions are focused on accompanying, talking, exchanging points of view, but not on taking part in the final work. That is one of the singularities of the project. How do you evaluate the final result of the projects handed in by ESDi Higher School of Design? As I said, the school is who gives merit to the different capsules. And it could not be in another way because we are talking about a project developed within the framework of studies. Professors must evaluate the developed project. We cannot evaluate. However, it must be said that projects received from ESDi meet enough the project objectives. Besides, I believe necessary to highlight the collaboration and complete understanding with Elizabeth Ferrándiz and Josep M. Marimon, in charge of the project by the School. I think that the good relationship with the teams has been a guarantee of success of the project. What surprised you the most about students’ works? The best thing about the project, from Liceu, is that we did not have preconceived ideas of what we wanted. When you commission something from someone where they are not important red lines is difficult that the final result surprises you. That is what we wanted: proposals, new ways of looking... However the result is more than good. Both for participants number, schools, developed projects and different views about the same opera, the different formal realizations, languages. Everything is very, very enriching.