Currently in its second year, LA Opera’s Cast to Class program brings opera singers into schools and students to the opera house. Opera singers travel to schools around Los Angeles County speaking to students about their craft, and then those same students attend a mainstage performance at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion and see the singer in action. The goal of the program—as with all of our education and community initiatives—is to break down the barriers between opera and the community.
However, in the past two years other, somewhat unexpected and beautiful results, has emerged.
Back in March, soprano Ana María Martínez spoke to students at Ramón C. Cortines School of Visual and Performing Arts in downtown Los Angeles as part of the Cast to Class program. The high school students and their teachers listened attentively as discussed her career, her role in Madame Butterfly, and the passion it takes to pursue an opera singing career. Most of all, Martinez inspired students to pursue their dreams.
Martínez is not the first opera singer who has visited schools across Los Angeles County as part of the Cast to Class program. Several singers, including J’Nai Bridges and former young artists Ben Bliss and Joshua Guerrero, have spoken with students at various schools across the county.
All the singers participating in the program are inspiring kids to follow their dreams and pursue the life that will make them happiest—whether that’s a career as a singer or in a completely different field.
Yet the artists have discovered that they too are as touched and impacted as the students. The artists going into schools may have an insight into their role or performance choice even as they explain it to the students.
From these talks, students come away at the very least with an appreciation for opera. Some discover a love for the art form. They are often surprised by how proud they are in turn to welcome these singers to their schools and inspired by these people who have worked so incredibly hard pursuing careers about which that they are passionate.
That passion is infectious. Both students and teachers feel empowered and it’s been a wonderful credit to the program that LA Opera has been invited back to the same schools, and the same classrooms many times.