Saturday Mornings at the Opera are special days. Young audiences walk into a Dorothy Chandler Pavilion that has been transformed into a creative play-land. The downstairs lobby is full of art, music, and dance workshops. Stern Grand Hall upstairs has been filled with comfy pillows, perfect seats for little opera fans. And today, the children are in for a special treat: singing lessons from an LA Opera artist.
Mezzo-Soprano Nandani Sinha, or Nani, is a multiple award-winning artist who frequently sings with LA Opera, Long Beach Opera and other companies around the world. But today is a special day for her too, she’s never taught a group of kids for Saturday Mornings at the Opera, saying, “I was a little nervous but excited!”
Within minutes of the audience entering there was a crowd of children, ready to learn about Opera. But where to begin?
“All kids are musical,” says Nani. “I really wanted them to understand their instrument, their voice. So we start with the breath.”
The children put their hands on their bellies, feel the breath. Then hands on throat, feel the vibration of the vocal chords. And the final part? “The brain!” says Nani. “Music requires a lot of thought.”
Each lesson lasted about ten minutes, concluding with “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” and a lesson in bowing. The response from the children and parents was better than Nani had imagined, she was always surrounded by young singers. But one young lady in particular stood out.
The girl, beautifully dressed in white tulle to attend her first opera, stood next to Nani and the piano. Her voice gained strength and volume throughout the lesson. Afterwards, Nani asked her if she sang in school. She said yes but that her teachers said she was too quiet for the solos. “Maybe you can take what you learned and try out again?” Nani asked her. The little girls face lit up as she took out a little notebook from her purse. “I’m going to write down everything we just did so I can practice before I try out again,” she said.
“To give a child the tools to do something that they really wanted to do was amazing,” says Nani. “I can’t wait to do it again at the next performance.”
For tickets to Saturday Mornings at the Opera on Feb. 3, click here.LA Opera is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization dedicated to the greater good.