ARC – Agile Opera: opera in a new era

The Agile Opera Project was a partnership with Chamber Made, the Australia Council and Federation Square. The project developed collaborative research techniques, produced digital iterations of live performance works, and explored digital platforms to support the production of chamber opera — preserving and extending the quality of intimacy essential to this performance form — in an evolving digital marketplace.


The Agile Opera Project commenced in 2013, with the support of an ARC Linkage Grant. The project aims were to advance a new type of integrated performing arts company by:

  • Researching and transforming the intellectual, artistic and social capital of a contemporary performing arts company via a series of interdisciplinary microlabs;

  • Researching and developing new physical and virtual platforms for the sustained delivery of chamber opera in the 21st Century, and;

  • Discovering new modes of interaction between an Australian contemporary performing arts company and national and international sectors that return value.


Main project outputs


Agile Opera Digital – a comprehensive website of essays, videos, images and other writing. Agile Opera Digital is an online resource for creative arts organisations to discover approaches for adapting live performance to digital and spatial forms and for academics to access research from the Agile Opera Project. The site includes detailed descriptions of the Microlabs, DigiWorks, Agile Chambers exhibition, Agile Recorder and Critical Concepts and Major Essays (Listed below).

Agile Chambers – exhibiting performance research. Agile Chambers was a week-long program (7-10 December, 2016) included Microlabs (interdisciplinary workshops), open labs, performances, presentations and roundtable discussions aimed at exploring digital iterations of Chamber Made performances created during the period of 2013-2016. The concept and program were developed in Microlab Three. The event was designed to expand the existing network of Agile Opera Project participants to include invited guests and members of the public.


Major essays on Agile Digital


Negotiating a shared language of value in the arts
Lawrence Harvey and Louise Godwin

A social science reflection on the built environments of the Chamber Made Opera: From physical place to code
Dr Alexia Maddox

Distributed Opera: new stagings, new roles
Juliana Hodkinson

Agile Chambers exhibition

Some brief notes toward a developmental perspective on the experience of performance in the arts
Greg Hooper

Another Other: 0:00 and 1:24
Sam McGilp

Desperate Measures
David Young

Rhythm of a Year: investigating the sophisticated networks of a small arts organisation
Lawrence Harvey

The Value Chamber: Performance and digital iterations across art, design and education
Agile Opera Team

Mirror Play
Dr Alexia Maddox


The project also supported creative works research:

Permission to Speak
Tamara Saulwick and Kate Neal

Between 8 and 9
Madeleine Flynn and Tim Humphrey

The Digital Platform
Concepts by Sam McGilp; programming and implementation by Pete Brundle and James Sandri (PDA Studios)

2013 – 2018

Key Project Team:

Associate Professor Lawrence Harvey – Lead Chief Investigator

Professor David Forrest – Chief Investigator

Greg More – Chief Investigator

Margaret Trail – Research Associate

Sam McGilp – PhD Candidate

Louise Godwin – Researcher, writer, editor

Tracey Nguyen – Research Assistant

Edward Hubber – Research Assistant


Chamber Made:

Tim Stitz – Creative producer, CEO of Chamber Made

Tamara Saulwick – Artistic Associate

Ekki Veltheim – Artistic Associate

Sarah Kriegler – Artistic Associate

Christie Stott – Artistic Associate


Fed Square Pty Ltd:

Matt Jones

Kendyl Rossi

Australia Council for the Arts:

Mr David Sudmalis

Mr Andrew Donovan


Additional Research Associates to the project and Microlab Participants:

Alexia Maddox

Gregory Hooper

Nicholas Gruen

Joel Stern

David Young

Esther Anatolitis

Jeremy Yuille

Ben Eltham

Steve Berrick

Lz Dunn

Peter Humble

Deborah Kayser

Emma McRae

Kate Neal

Cynthia Troup

Mark Williams

Jethro Woodward