Barry Spann began painting opera backdrops in 2013.
The original commission by the Paris-based Opéra de Poche was for a series of chamber operas with scores by Evan Fein and libretti by Emily Anderson.
Lightning, Moon and Stars (La foudre, la lune et les étoiles) was painted for The Island of the Ugly Sisters (L'Île des sept sœurs), premiering at the Théâtre Adyar in Paris on 18 October 2013. The painting was part of Dark Mountains & Lightning, Moon and Stars, a companion one-man exhibit at Studio Vermès in Paris.
For the world premiere of City of Ashes (Cité des cendres) on 18 November 2015, the artist painted nine cityscapes. The paintings were digitized for stage projection and the original oils exhibited at the Théâtre Adyar. The Asia premiere of City of Ashes, an Opéra de Poche coproduction with the Dongcheng Comic Opera Festival, was on 26 October 2016 at the Dongcheng District Cultural Center Fashion Theatre, Dongcheng, Beijing, China.
In 2017, the artist created seven works for Narcissa, a third Opéra de Poche production. These include a three-meter-square painting entitled Arch, as well as five backdrops and a small version of Arch. The world premiere took place in Bléré, Val de Loire, 30 September.
A special performance of City of Ashes was filmed at La Nef Glauser, Paris, on 21 June 2018, by Anne Georget for a documentary entitled Une saison à l’opéra de poche.
In the US, Barry Spann painted Still Life with Brandies and Moon for the 9–10 March 2018 premiere in Knoxville, of Follow Suit, a Marble City Opera production, score by Griffin Candey, libretto by Emily Anderson.