Tag Archives: Eli Villanueva

Figaro’s American Adventure is a Symbol of Arts Integration at its Finest

Figaro's American Adventure

Figaro’s American Adventure

LA Opera has made a mission of bringing opera into LA County schools and students to the opera. Through several programs, the company introduces and shares a love of opera with kids and teens across the county. Students learn about opera from singers and staff, and experience productions geared toward teaching them the “big ideas” about the art form. However, presenting opera isn’t enough. LA Opera collaborates with teachers to integrate the music and theater standards of the opera with their English language arts and/or history curriculum standards. LA Opera’s production of Figaro’s American Adventure, which the company performs to thousands of students at venues across the county, is a great example of this arts-integrated learning.

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GIVING TUESDAY: BOOSTING CHILDREN’S CONFIDENCE THROUGH THE ARTS

Giving Tuesday - Boosting Confidence

Tomorrow is Giving Tuesday, a nationwide day of giving back. As a non-profit organization, LA Opera relies on donations from individuals like you to share the power of the performing arts within our community.

LA Opera’s Education and Community Engagement programs touch the lives of more than 140,000 Angelenos annually. Below is a story of some of the young lives being affected.

Help make programs like these possible. Visit LAOpera.org/Donate

Eli Villanueva

Eli Villanueva

For the past fifteen years, Eli Villanueva has worked with LA Opera’s Education and Community Engagement team to bring opera to the Los Angeles Community. An accomplished performer, stage director, and composer, Villanueva has performed in and composed several works for the company’s various education programs (Opera Camp, Opera Tales, and In-School Opera).

Through his work, Villanueva strives to impact how children see the world and offer them the same excitement he had when he first “caught the opera bug.”

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Leroy Villanueva On Bringing Opera To Schools

Leroy Villanueva (left) and Charlie Kim (right) in The White Bird of Poston (2016)

Leroy Villanueva (left) and Charlie Kim (right) in The White Bird of Poston (2016)

Every year, LA Opera brings opera into schools through its Secondary In-School (SISO) program, through which students and teaching artist join forces over the course of 10 weeks to produce an opera. This innovative and influential program shares the art form with kids across Los Angeles. It’s an enriching experience for both students, teachers, and the artists involved in the program, including baritone Leroy Villanueva.

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LA Opera Performs Operas…In Secondary Schools

Secondary-In-School Opera

Secondary-In-School Opera

Teens and opera – there’s a connection there. You might think that teenagers in Los Angeles would never think about it or avoid it, assuming it’s old fashioned and boring. But, LA Opera is challenging that narrative by bringing opera directly to Los Angeles’ secondary school students.

Every year LA Opera’s Education and Community Engagement’s program, Secondary In-School Opera (SISO), offers an original opera specifically commissioned for middle and high school students. On as many as 10 campuses across all five Los Angeles districts, students work together as an ensemble to build critical music and performance skills, under the direction of professional teaching artists from LA Opera. During one class period a week, for ten weeks each fall they put together an opera. On performance day a truck rolls up to the campus with sets, costumes, technical equipment, and more. Students are joined by several professional opera singers and orchestra members for their final dress rehearsal and a stirring performance for their peers, parents and special invited guests.

If bringing this art form to students was all SISO offered, it would be amazing.

But wait, there’s more!

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Opera Camp Never Gets Old

Samuel Bindschadler

Samuel Bindschadler

Envision yourself on stage. You’re in character, singing a role you love, and connecting with hundreds of audience members. You’ve worked hard for this moment and it’s more wonderful than you could have ever imagined. It also doesn’t feel like work, because you’ve enjoyed every minute.

This is how I feel every year during LA Opera’s summer youth program, Opera Camp. It’s some of the most rewarding “work” I’ve had the pleasure of doing. This year, I will participate in the camp for the fourth time, for which I am immensely grateful. Over the past few years, I have learned so much from amazing teaching artists and directors (particularly Eli Villanueva, Leslie Stevens, and Karen Hogle Brown) and even Maestro James Conlon.

The camp only lasts two weeks, but it is an intense two weeks. It never ceases to astound me how quickly the camp passes and how much I learn in such a short period of time. Few words can do justice to how working with Eli, Leslie, Karen, and all of the other magnificent performers and teaching artists enhance my (and other kids) knowledge of acting, singing, performance, and an artist’s responsibility. Whether through the lyrics of Hans Krása in Brundibár—in which, in 2011, I played “Little Joe,” a young man, who seeks out aid from unwilling adults to save his ailing mother—or Then I Stood Up—in which, this year, I will play the role of Pastor Jim—LA Opera always makes sure we learn both about performing and the history behind each opera.

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Creating Then I Stood Up

Then I Stood Up: A Civil Rights Cycle - Opera Camp 2015; Photo: Gennia Cui / The Future Collective

Then I Stood Up: A Civil Rights Cycle – Opera Camp 2015; Photo: Gennia Cui / The Future Collective

On August 6, LA Opera will premiere Then I Stood Up, a one-act youth opera that honors the contributions of young people to the Civil Rights Movement.  The opera—which will be presented as the culmination of a two-week intensive summer Opera Camp—was commissioned by LA Opera and composed and co-written by Eli Villanueva and Leslie Stevens (who have also written other operas for the camp). For two years, Villanueva and Stevens worked closely with the education and community engagement team and a number of consulting organizations (Facing History and Ourselves, Watts Labor Community Action Committee, California African American Museum) on Then I Stood Up. They crafted an opera that not only engages audience members, but also teaches campers vital lessons about social justice.

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Eli Villanueva and LA Opera Boost Children’s Confidence Through the Arts

Eli Villanueva

Eli Villanueva

For the past fifteen years, Eli Villanueva has worked with LA Opera’s Education and Community Engagement team to bring opera to the Los Angeles Community. An accomplished performer, stage director, and composer, Villanueva has performed in and composed several works for the company’s various education programs (Opera Camp, Opera Tales, and In-School Opera) and has also directed many community productions, including the popular operas staged annually at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels. Through his work, Villanueva strives to impact how children see the world and offer them the same excitement he had when he first “caught the opera bug.”

A Young Eli in the Boy's Choir

A Young Eli Villanueva in the Boy’s Choir

Villanueva caught the opera bug at age 12. At the time, the New York City Opera would tour in Los Angeles, staging a few operas a year. Villanueva performed with the California Boys Choir and through this choir was cast as a member of the children’s chorus in Puccini’s La Bohème. “I got to actually stand next to operas singers, which I thought was the most amazing thing,” recalls Villanueva. He continues, “I truly feel that it’s that experience of being next to an opera singer that really changes a child’s perspective of the whole art form.”

Villanueva’s work with the Education & Community Engagement team focuses on changing people’s perspective of opera.

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A Decade at the Cathedral

<em>The Festival Play of Daniel</em> (2012); Photo: LA Opera Educom

The Festival Play of Daniel (2012); Photo: LA Opera Educom ‘The Festival Play of Daniel’ Performances – February 27, 2010 Los Angeles Opera Educational Department Photos taken at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels. Mandatory Credit: Photo by Robert Millard (©) Copyright 20010 by Robert Millard www.MillardPhotos.com millard@millardphotos.com 626-792-3237

When James Conlon became LA Opera’s Richard Seaver Music Director in 2006, one of the first initiatives he brought to the company was the Cathedral Project. A partnership between LA Opera and the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, the Cathedral Project brings community singers and musicians together with LA Opera artists to present an opera to the public. For the past decade, it has been a key feature of the company’s community engagement and an opera that performers, teaching artists, and audience members look forward to each year. Mr. Conlon, who conducts these performances every year, is “thrilled that Los Angeles families have responded to community productions with so much enthusiasm and appreciation.”

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LA Opera: A Teacher’s Paradise

Last week during Arts in Education Week, LA Opera teaching artists spent the day working with students on Orpheus, an original youth opera commissioned by LA Opera, written by librettist Matthew Leavitt and composer Nathan Wang, based on the Greek legend of Orpheus and Eurydice. This is part of a program called Secondary In-School Opera, a ten-week performance workshop that provides secondary schools with a team of teaching artists and directors to show students what it takes to perform an opera. Students meet with the artists ten times to work on the opera between August and October with a performance in November – an engaging experience to foster interest in the world of opera.

Resident Stage Director Eli Villanueva working with students as part of LA Opera's Secondary In-School Opera Program

Resident Stage Director Eli Villanueva working with students as part of LA Opera’s Secondary In-School Opera Program

For more than 20 years, LA Opera has been exploring the magic of opera with schools, teachers and students from kindergarten through college, all over Southern California. Secondary In-School Opera is just one of the many education programs that make LA Opera a teacher’s paradise. Others include Opera Camp, Opera-U, and LA Opera 90012.

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