In the last two decades the standards for editions of music theater works have changed dramatically. Growing questions about traditional concepts of “the work” as well as the strengthening conception of music theater genres as multimedia phenomena have contributed to these changes. The project OPERA puts the focus on dealing with the editorial problems arising from these issues. The result is that it is not “a work” in the absolute sense that is edited, but rather a specific set of editorial issues related to a given work, and these in turn determine the edition’s perspective. In accordance with the kinds of issues involved, the compositions to be brought out have been grouped into modules.

A central feature of the project is also the integration of the texts set to music, the scenarios, and the choreographies, which will be presented in critical, scholarly form along with the score. In this sense OPERA starts from the notion of the self-contained status of the texts in music theater (as well as in other vocal genres), a notion that will be appropriately reflected in the editions. Furthermore, with regard to source evaluations and editorial representation, the editions of the texts reflect the issues that characterize each module.

Because OPERA is not concerned with author-specific editions, the project is in a position to draw on a wide range of countries, periods, and genres for the choice of material for its volumes.

Owing to the international dimensions of the project, the works will be assigned to an external editor in most cases. Along with preparing their own editions, the project members are required to check on the external editors regularly.