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.
Why opera camp?
Chaya: I decided to audition for Opera Camp, because I love singing and I wanted to be surrounded by people who have the same interests as me. I came to see the Opera Camp performance last year and I really like how all the kids were doing what they loved together.
Luz: My mother said it would be a great experience and I really like singing. I was a little nervous at first, but now I am here, singing all these songs, and it’s great.
Tell me about your characters in Then I Stood Up?
Chaya: I play two characters. One of them is Margaret and she’s the girl in high school, who always does her homework, and she’s doing next week’s homework. Carlotta Walls is the other character and she wants to make a difference. She makes the brave choice to integrate. For kids going from elementary school to middle school it’s scary, but going to a school where everyone is different from you, that’s even scarier. She has a lot of inner strength.
Luz: I play one of the students in the classroom learning about Civil Rights history. At first, my character doesn’t really like history, but she likes it more and more as the opera goes on.
What’s your favorite moment in the opera?
Chaya: My favorite moment is in the very beginning. As Carlotta, I sing a tiny solo about dreaming big. Her friend Minnie Jean points out a sign-up sheet for Central High School. I say, “Oh, that’s a really good high school, but it’s a white school. Is it okay?” Then, Minnie Jean says the Supreme Court says it is. I really like when Carlotta says, “Give me a pen,” and signs up to go to that high school. It shows a lot about her personality. She’s strong and brave.
What do you like most about rehearsals?
Chaya: I love everything! I really enjoy chorus practice, because the sound that we make together is amazing.
Luz: I really love harmonizing. I usually sing alone, so it’s great to sing along with the other kids. Also, I didn’t know I have a high-pitched voice; I thought it was in the middle section of opera. During one of our rehearsals, I worked with Karen Hogle Brown, one of our teaching artists, and she said that I am a soprano. It’s really great to know that.
Are you going to be a performer when you grow up?
Chaya: I really enjoy singing, but there are also a lot of other things I love too. I love writing, teaching, and music. I could be a music teacher, who sings on the side, and writes books. Who knows?
Luz: My family thinks I’m going to be a singer, when I grow up because I always sing at school and at home.
Are you going to come back and see some opera this season?
Both girls gave a resounding “YES!”
For more information about opera camp, click here.
LA Opera is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization dedicated to the greater good.