Opera Garage: From lyrical coliseums to industrial buildings

Chatted with Macarena Bergareche and Emiliano Suarez, creators of the Opera Garage initiative, which debuted last year with great success La Boheme at the warehouse of the Palo Alto Area of Barcelona. This year the bet is Donizetti’s classic, Lucia di Lammermoor in Jorge Juan, 137, an old carpentry converted into a garage.


Opera Garage comes from the initiative of two Biscay promoters, Emiliano Suárez, and Macarena Bergareche, partners and co-founders of the Think Chic agency. Both lead this unique commitment to move the opera to the most unusual and alternative places in order to attract new audiences. They reaped their first success with the tour of their first production, La Bohème, last year between Bilbao to Barcelona. 


How was born the idea of ​​a project that takes the opera out of a classic stage and moves it to unconventional spaces?

Macarena: It is a project directed and thought to bring opera to a wide and renewed audience. A surprising proposal, in an unpublished format available to all curious spirits.


The initiative was born from the passion of Emiliano Suárez for this musical genre and his firm conviction of getting new audiences and ensuring the generational relief for this spectacle show. Opera Garage is a reflection on how opera can conquer alternative spaces.


La Bohème in garage version is our particular vision of the bohemian of the 21st century, where alternative spaces can be conquered by young artists, creatives, entrepreneurs and with limited resources but imagination without limits.


Emiliano: Working on dramaturgy, I came to the conclusion that La boheme of the 21st century had nothing to do with the scenic conventions that this masterpiece suffers. The bohemians that I draw are a group of frustrated artists who remain determined to achieve success and happiness through their cloudy talent. 

To tell this revised version, the possibility of finding alternative, inhospitable, decadent places came to mind. The textures they offered me were pure poetry and the best way to tell the story coherently. 

On the other hand, the garage opera spirit is to capture new audiences with a very accessible pricing policy. Listening to an opera for € 35 is worth it. We are very confident in the development of this adventure, for now we have registered it. This is a good sign. 


Did your relationship with the lyrical world and that of marketing and communications help you find new ways to produce opera?

Macarena: Indeed, Emiliano Suárez’s passion for opera and his close relationship with the lyrical world, together with his knowledge and experience in the world of marketing and communication led him to create this new Opera Garage project. He joined his artistic ability to my executive ability, and thus Opera Opera was born.

Two young entrepreneurs who want to bring opera to alternative spaces and new spectators.


How do you think this project collaborates with the development and training of new audiences?

Macarena: The fact of “relocating” the opera from its usual spaces is a great attraction to attract new audiences.


On the other hand, being able to see a complete representation of great works such as La Bohème at a very affordable price (€ 35) is undoubtedly an important advantage to capture new viewers.


To produce known works, with top-level artists, at prices at the reach of any type of age was our goal and we have achieved it.


Emiliano: I think it is received with expectation, it is quite interesting. Well-managed novelty is an added value to every creative project. The format and its price are part of a strategy that aims to break down barriers between the general public and the opera. It is a deep stupidity to think that opera is for rich and educated people. We must end the prejudices and complexes that threaten us when listening to classical music or opera. 


Tell us about the production of La Boheme? How is it designed and what is the staging?

Macarena: This is a free version of La Bohème de Puccini, with piano and vocals, under the artistic direction of Emiliano Suárez.


It fully respects the text and music of the Puccini version but moves the scene to the times of today.


The characters are characterized in contemporary times and both their scenic movements and their costumes, makeup and hairdressing represent the bohemian of the 21st century.


The staging is very austere, the floor of the chosen space itself is the scene and we have few elements of props but with great force. We have an illuminator that is a crack, which transforms the scene in an incredible way for each of the environments that drama and space are asking for. 


What are your main collaborators and what are the next destinations / objectives of this project?


Emiliano: My partner and executive director of Opera Garage is Macarena Bergareche, without her, there is no Boheme. Then, Ana Garay’s stage design, Carola Baleztena’s wardrobe and Carlos Alzueta’s lighting. We will go around Spain and then the world, do not hesitate.


What are your main collaborators and what are the next destinations / objectives of this project?

Macarena: We have the collaboration of ABAO (Bilbao Association of Friends of Bilbao), in Bilbao and the Gran Teatre del Liceu de Barcelona for the dissemination and sale of tickets, giving the credibility project in the lyrical world.


We also have the collaboration of AIR EUROPA for the movement of the team, as well as car brands such as PS RETAIL in Barcelona and Hyunbisa in Bilbao for the transfers of artists in the cities.


The beverage brands TAITTINGER, BEER ALHAMBRA and BODEGA CHIVITE support us for the bar offered during the opening of each performance.


ANGLOMANÍA supports us with the costumes of the singers and music teacher.


Our next target destinations are Madrid, Las Palmas, Palma de Mallorca, among others.