Opera non stop – tonwelt creates unique triggering concept for Victoria and Albert Museum with its multimedia guides

How to present the entire world and cultural history of opera in just one exhibition? By simply displaying costumes, photographs and librettos? Well, surely that is one option.But would it live up to the vivid world of opera, one of the most multi-faceted genres of art? Probably not. In early 2017, curators and exhibition designers faced the challenge of telling the story of opera in a new light. The exhibition “Opera: Passion, Power, Politics” takes the visitors on a virtual journey through the 400-year history of opera by portraying seven premieres in seven European capitals. The first act of this immersive exhibition experience started on September 30, 2017 at the renowned Victoria and Albert Museum in London.

It encompasses different means of production and considers varied approaches of arrangement and staging – but the main character and unique feature of opera will always be: the music itself. Exhibition designers wished for the visitors to dive into the sound, continuing their journey through time in an on-going listening experience, which would adapt according to the respective exhibit and its context. To make this vision come to life, tonwelt restructured their triggering technology for its multimedia guides supraGuide TOUCH, resulting in an all new, one of a kind, individual concept of triggering acoustic content. It allows visitors to proceed from one exhibit to the next, without any interruption to the sound they were just experiencing- and without having to miss out on the next acoustic content.

The revolutionary technology also convinced members of the press. On October 29, 2017, Jan Dalley states in The Financial Times:

“The listening is probably the best part of this richly fascinating show. As we move from section to section, or pause beside a single exhibit, headphones automatically deliver the accompanying music”.

Two videos in which exhibition makers explain the idea and concept of "Opera: Passion, Power and Politics" give a look behind the scenes of the exhibition.


V&A London

Location & Year
London (UK), 2017/18

Project Type
Travelling exhibition

Customer Type
Art museums and galeries


Act 1: the making of the exhibition

Opera: Passion, Power and Politics

Act 2: staging the exhibition

Opera: Passion, Power and Politics