RESEO was established in 1996 as a network for the growing number of opera education departments that sprang up across Europe from the 1980s onwards. Education is now a major priority for opera houses, with many offering a wide range of activities that take into account varying age groups, backgrounds and possibilities of involvement. These include:
- Works for young audiences: productions that are specifically created or adapted for children,
- Community opera, which gives the local community the chance to participate in a fully-fledged opera production under the guidance of a professional creative team,
- Outreach initiatives that aim to bring opera to those who are not usually exposed to it,
- Work with vulnerable adults,
- Talks, introductions and guided tours,
- Lifelong learning, for those who are interested in pursuing education outside of a traditional learning context (ie schools, universities)
- International events such as the European Opera Days.
Engaging the wider public with a challenging and complex artform is one of many motivations for those who seek to ensure the continuing appeal of opera today. Having gone through a considerable amount of changes in public image – from part of Italian Renaissance high culture to popular entertainment in the 19th century - opera today remains as diverse, compelling and dynamic as ever. Opera education seeks above all to valorise an artform that draws on the wealth of human experience and infuses it with music, movement and voice, underlining its sociocultural roots, connecting it to the communities it performs within, and extending its impact beyond the limits of the performance venue and the existing repertoire.