Tag Archives: Then I Stood Up

5 Moments We Loved From Then I Stood Up

The Opera Camp 2016 team with Carlotta Walls LaNier

The Opera Camp 2016 team with Carlotta Walls LaNier

Opera Camp is one of our favorite parts about summer at LA Opera. Watching more than 50 talented kids rehearse and perform opera in just two weeks never ceases to astound us. But, this year’s camp was extra special, because we premiered Eli Villanueva and Leslie Stevens’ Then I Stood Up, a youth opera honoring the contributions of young people to the Civil Rights Movement. From day one, kids not only engaged with opera, but also with civil rights history, in a way that connects past with the present, and brings people together through the power of opera.

While we loved everything about this year’s Opera Camp, here are some moments that really made this year’s program the best yet.

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All About That Opera Camp

Luz Duran (left) and Chaya Forman (right) during a break from Opera Camp 2016

Luz Duran (left) and Chaya Forman (right) during a break from Opera Camp 2016

Chaya Forman and Luz Duran love to sing. Chaya used to sing with the National Children’s Chorus, while Luz loves singing pop songs and can easily break into a rendition of Alicia Keyes’ “Girl On Fire.” They’re also both rising seventh graders and will spend two weeks of their summer at LA Opera’s Opera Camp, rehearsing and performing Then I Stood Up, a youth opera about the contributions of young people to the Civil Rights Movement.

It’s also their first year in the camp and they’re loving the experience so far.  We spoke with the girls to get a sense of what life is like for a first year camper.

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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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