Reinventing Don Giovanni: A Collective Project

2 May, 2018

18 months of work
100 young people
13 youth centres
4000 spectators…

UN AUTRE DON JUAN, a project initiated by the the Opéra Royal de Wallonie-Liège (Belgium), is a collective project that gives the floor to 100 young people from a wide variety of cultures and backgrounds who have been working together for over a year and a half to reinterpret Mozart’s Don Giovanni. Youth and opera will come together in an exciting human and artistic experience that will culminate in four performances in May 2018.

Youth and Culture Coming Together

«Un Autre Don Juan really brings us together! It’s fun and we have a great time but at the same time we’re making something that’s really important to us and to the audience. It’s also taught us to take more responsibilities. I’ve been getting up at 6 every Sunday for the past year and a half to get on the train and come and rehearse at the Opera. I used to think acting was easy!». William, 16 – Braine-le-comte/Hainaut

The project is a collaboration between the Opéra Royal de Wallonie-Liège and the Maisons de Jeunes en Belgique Francophone (Federation of Youth Centers of French-speaking Belgium). A hundred young people were recruited from 13 youth centers to join the adventure. The very nature of the project is to actively involve young people in creation by focusing on their full potential. A real place is guaranteed to everyone, whatever their abilities, desires or needs. Difference is considered an asset.

An Ambitious Initiative

« We would never have thought we could be friends because we come from completely different towns, cultures and backgrounds. We learnt to interact, respect each other and discovered each others’ talents. We’re doing something we never expected to do, that we never thought we’d be able to do. The show lets us to get a message across: we may be young, but that doesn’t mean we have nothing to say. It’s important to realise that people are willing to listen to us  » Anaïs, 21 – Evelette/Namur

Un Autre Don Juan is above all a tool for the development of young people. Different values and cross-disciplinary skills come into play and are acquired throughout the process, which not only encourages the meeting of young people from various socio-cultural backgrounds around opera, but also enables them to appropriate the work, merges opera and artistic practices associated with youth, such as dance, beatbox, comedy, rap, street art and photography to create a “made in 2018” version of Don Giovanni, taking the production into the public space through a professional-level musical performance with 4000 spectators.

An Encouraging and Participatory Framework with Lasting Impact

«By getting to know each other better and better and finding out everyone’s strengths and weaknesses, we can support each other and surpass ourselves. The show isn’t only about having a good time, it’s also about growing. It’s incredible all we gain. A lot of us are more confident, some have made huge artistic progress» Wissem, 17 – Liège

The very nature of the project is to actively involve young people by focusing on their full potential. As the process is spread over a long period of time for a young person (Over a year and a half), a high degree of support is provided by the supervisors and special care is given to group dynamics. As the project progresses, participants become ever more bonded, a true source of strength.

Created for and by young people, the project as artistic activity promotes their personal development (Relationship to the self), cultural development (Relationship to art, music and the work) and social development (Relationship with others).

Guaranteed Participation for All

The young people, who are from extremely varied backgrounds – rural and urban, wealthy and precarious – are constantly encouraged to be conscientious and aware of each other, with great importance given to mutual respect and listening. Group dynamics are stimulated through the organisation of moments dedicated to sharing, such as outings and evening events.
No auditions were organised. The project is unique in the way it welcomes all young persons wishing to be involved and seeks to discover the strengths that reside in them and enable them to surpass their difficulties. Differences can be an asset and those with special needs are absolutely included in the process.

Opéra Royal de Wallonie-Liège have launched a crowdfunding campaign in order to raise a further €12,500 which will enable them to complete the project and create costumes and sets. Click here to support the project