The Opera Story

Famed for exceptional precision

Born in 1984, Opera Simulation Software as we know it today, began its life as a fledgling offshoot from the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory. Famed for its exceptional precision and accuracy, the engineers behind Vector Fields, as it was then known, felt the software’s superior functionality could benefit many involved in magnet design worldwide, and took steps to make the software commercially available to experts in both research and industry.

Opera wins the Queens Award in 1992

As Opera’s functionality grew from strength to strength, a Queen’s Award for Technological Achievement followed in 1992. Opera’s commitment to accuracy continued through the 1990s, developing electrical machine applications, and expanding the range of electromagnetic problems Opera software could solve. By the early 2000s, and by closely following the pace of the expanding capacity of technology, Opera added De-magnetization solver in 2d (to be followed by 3d a few years later) and the thermal module TEMPO in 3d.

Making electromagnetic simulation sing

Bill Trowbridge, a founder and first Chairman of the company, was fascinated with the drama and music of opera. This led to the first Vector Fields’ modules being given operatic names, TOSCA and SCARPIA to name but two. SOPRANO and SCALA soon followed and before long the idea of using the name Opera for the whole software suite began to seem like an attractive idea. Renowned not just for its operatic module titles, but for the ability to reach new heights of precision, and make electromagnetic simulations sing like never before, the software’s new name fit well.


Opera goes from strength to strength

Opera continued to launch a string of innovative solver modules, complimented by an easy-to-use front-end. Application-focussed functionality such as a transient rotational solver with automatic re-meshing allowed electrical machine designers to really investigate machine behaviour for the first time.

Quench solver launched

Incorporating transient thermal with electromagnetic simulation, the launch of Opera’s Quench solver offered designers the opportunity to achieve a full analysis, as well as the added ability to perform static stress analysis at time points or include semi-analytic stress calculations. Quench was a revolutionary addition to Opera because it faced the challenge of setting up simulations that require highly non-linear materials data, giving users unique functionality.

Quench in a LTS magnet with an HTS insert

Dassault Systèmes Acquires Opera Simulation Software

In 2018 Dassault Systèmes acquired Opera Simulation Software. Opera applications will be part of the SIMULIA brand’s electromagnetics simulation portfolio – read more here.

Explore covers of electromagnetic newsletters from the 1980s and 1990s:

Spring 1986

International co-operation a key priority for developing electromagnetic software

Spring 1992

Opera is a winner on personal computers

Summer 1992

Opera wins the Queen’s Award for Technological Achievement

Spring 1993

Opera launches 2d, offering more simulation help for electrical designers

Spring 1994

The launch SOPRANO and better high frequency analysis

Winter 1995

Opera’s SCALA module helps simulate space charge

Winter 1995

Opera collaborates with CRIEPI of Japan

Winter 1997

Opera releases 3d rotating machine module

Take a look at some of the different EU projects and collaborations in which Opera has been involved: