We invite you, the artists, creators, builders, and developers of all kinds – multi-media magicians, creative technologists, innovative visionaries – to join us in the creation of a truly unique and immersive art piece.

First Session Competition

Use your imagination, experience and knowledge to conjure up a ambitious immersive art concept for the theme “Memories of the Future” with the musical score created by world-renowned composer Esa-Pekka Salonen and story challenge by award-winning musical artist and dramaturge Paula Vesala.

The deadline for entries closed on April 23rd, finalists will be invited to pitch at First Session, May 29th-31st 2019 in Helsinki.

Create possibilities, break boundaries, envisage the unimaginable.


Propose a creative, immersive concept to be the Finnish National Opera & Ballet’s new art piece. The working title is ‘Memories of Future’. Your concept should capture the theme, connect or complement the supplied musical score by Esa-Pekka Salonen, and embrace the story fragments by Paula Vesala. It can utilise any immersive technologies and techniques you (and your team) envisage.

Your proposed concept should embrace the spirit of performing arts, music, and most importantly opera and ballet. It can be a work in progress. It is recommended to build a team to be able to fulfill the project.

You’ll find the entry form here. For more information please see the Terms and FAQ.

The deadline for entries closed on April 23rd at 23:59 (EET).

Artistic challenges

View samples

Musical challenge
by Esa-Pekka Salonen

Story challenge
by Paula Vesala

section-artists base-margin-left popup-slideshow popup-slideshow-artist scroll-reveal parallax-images

Paula Vesala

Vesala is a multi-platinum selling, diverse musician who is recognized for her skills in creating tangible stories and universes through words and dynamic performance.

Evolve your idea with mentors and jury

popup-slideshow popup-slideshow-artist

Anna Vavilova

Anna Vavilova and Joonas Laurikainen are team leads and coaches from Talk The Talk program, they will be your helping hand in mastering the project pitch on Thursday. How often do you hear that pu

Annina Antinranta

Annina Antinranta is a concept and experience designer, futures thinker and a coach specialised in service creation and customer experience.

Callie Holderman

Callie Holderman is the Senior Manager of Developer Experience at Magic Leap, bringing mixed­-reality content to market for Rovio, Funomena, ILMxLAB, Weta Workshop, Wayfair and more.

Domhnaill Hernon

Domhnaill Hernon is the Head of Experiments in Art and Technology at Nokia Bells Labs, world renowned industrial research center.

Ethan Edwards

Ethan Edwards is a Researcher with the Experiments in Art and Technology Program at Nokia Bell Labs. He coordinates large-scale collaborations between artists and engineers and works to find new forms of human communication.

Gabo Arora

Gabo Arora is an award-winning immersive artist, filmmaker and Founder/Creative Director of LightShed, a storytelling, technology and research studio collaborating with the industry’s leading creative pioneers and entrepreneurs focused exclusively on emerging technologies currently known as VR, AR and AI.

Jean-Pascal Beaudoin

Jean-Pascal is the Co-founder and President of Headspace Studio and Head of Sound of Headspace Studio (Montréal). Jean-Pascal believes in a vision of the future where everything you experience digitally is more immersive, more emotional, and more meaningful — because of what you hear.

Kimmo Karjunen

Kimmo Karjunen (1967) is a lighting, set, video and sound designer within opera and contemporary dance. Karjunen has been the lecturer of lighting design in the Theatre Academy since 1995. He received the State of Finland Award for the Arts in 2009.

Paula Vesala

Vesala is a multi-platinum selling, diverse musician who is recognized for her skills in creating tangible stories and universes through words and dynamic performance.

Sarah Ellis

Sarah Ellis is an award winning producer currently exploring new artistic initiatives as Director of Digital Development for the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC). She has been listed in the top 100 most influential people working in Gaming and Technology by The Hospital Club and Guardian Culture Professionals.

Wilfried Bock

Wilfried is a user experience designer specializing in emerging tech and hardware related cases. From engineering through development to user centred design, Wilfried has spent the past dozen years getting his hands dirty while tackling the ins and outs of human-computer interaction.

3 step process

Step 1. Feb – April
Design a concept for an original immersive art work and submit your proposal via the application form. You’ll briefly describe the design for the piece, give a simple overview of the tools, technology and materials used to create it, and how you intend the audience to experience it.

You’ll find the entry form here.

Step 2. May
The Opera Beyond judging panel will announce the shortlist, and the finalists’ profiles will feature on the website.
We have a team of specialist advisors ready to assist you with feedback, and how to develop your art concept to best fit the brief and creative elements set by the Finnish National Opera and Ballet – in preparation for the First Session.

Step 3. May
Finalists will be invited to the Finnish National Opera in Helsinki for an intensive two-and-a-half-day event of idea conceptualisation and finalisation.

You will have a chance to expand and refine your idea through mentoring sessions in fields of technology, storytelling, production, and musical score; and you can elucidate a more detailed design. The event culminates with a live pitch of your immersive art piece on stage at the First Session conference, Finnish National Opera, May 31st 2019.

Admission criteria

The concept must

  • Have a response to the given musical score and story fragment
  • Create an immersive experience (using new technology/techniques)
  • Be physically mobile and/or possible to disassemble and reassemble (to go on tour)
  • Be a maximum length of 15 minutes, or on a loop (if it is linear time-based)

The concept should

  • Work as a standalone piece – it should not rely on live performance
  • Allow for a level of audience interaction
  • Embrace the spirit of live performance, music, and the stage arts
  • Include wide audience accessibility (physical accessibility considered)

The concept could

  • Have a presence outside the immediate art piece (eg. online)
  • Be able to scale up and down depending on the physical space


  • Overview. Teams may submit their Entry for an immersive art piece competition to be produced by Finnish National Opera and Ballet (FNOB) in collaboration with the winning Team. FNOB will  judge all eligible Entries and select finalist to participate to First Session event, where the winning concept is selected. The teams participating in the competition need to agree to the terms below.
  • Time period. The Submission period ends on April 23rd, 2019 at 23:59 (EET) and the Teams are notified on the outcome. Selected teams are invited to participate in First Session in Helsinki, Finland, May 29th – 31st, 2019. The actual production of the work has to be finished during the year 2020.
  • Entry Eligibility. An Entry will be eligible if it is: a. completed in its entirety in accordance with the applicable instructions (e.g. Admission criteria), b. submitted during the Submission period, c. in the English language, d. the applicants original work (The team must have permission and rights to all Third Party content, which can be granted to FNOB), and e. the concept can’t be a pre-existing, published, or publicly exhibited unless a distinction can be made by amendments and tailoring to fit the brief.
  • Entry Ownership. As between Team and FNOB, the Team shall own all right, title, and interest in and to all Entry content submitted by Team. FNOB takes no responsibility and assumes no liability for any Entry content submitted by you or any a third party.
  • Prizes. The main price of the competition is a 75.000€ production contract with FNOB to implement and publish your concept. Another 10.000€ of Prize money will be allocated among teams that have made valuable contributions at First Session. Teams who accept the prize will be responsible for all applicable taxes related to that prize.
  • Admission Criteria. All Entries will be judged by jury seleted by the FNOB. Eligible Entries will be judged based on the following criteria:
    1. Concept criteria
    – Immersion (Would the audience be captivated and enthralled?)
    – Creativity (Novelty in the field of arts)
    – Innovation  (Does it utilize a technology or a media in an interesting way?)
    – Use of technology (Does the technology add value to the art piece?)
    – Feasibility (Can it be done? Taking into consideration: size, method, cost, time, technology.)
    – Mobility (Can it be moved or broken down?)
    – Scalability (Can it be scaled up and down according to physical space?)
    2. Team criteria
    – Experience (Do they have appropriate experience for the project)
    – Appropriate expertise (Is the team’s experience appropriate to the particular concept?)
    – Complete team (Does the team knowledge range all aspects of the concept?)
  • Principal Production
    FNOB will own all the rights of the winning concept after the Team has signed the production contract, but in cases of e.g. earlier developed technology IPRs are negotiable. The FNOB retains rights to final artistic decisions in the project.

Something left unsaid?

Please see FAQ for further questions.