In 1986, Marie Rogers was an opera enthusiast excited that Los Angeles was finally getting its own resident opera company. She taught in LA’s public school system at the time and couldn’t wait to spend a night at the opera watching Plácido Domingo in Otello. But she couldn’t find anyone to go with her.
So Marie went alone – and loved every second of it. The show made a great impression on her and she wanted to be a part of it. Act I had a children’s chorus and Marie thought to herself, “There has to be a studio teacher for those kids.”
Three years later, in true serendipitous fashion, Marie received a call asking her to be a studio teacher for the revival of LA Opera’s production of Otello. She knew that studio teaching would be the perfect job for her when she entered the building for an interview and heard the children rehearsing in a room nearby.
That moment happened almost 30 years ago and Marie has been with LA Opera ever since. She’s now the Head Studio Teacher and works on every production that includes children (sometimes working with additional teachers, depending on the size of the show).
As Head Studio Teacher, Marie works to make certain that all child labor laws are adhered to, while recreating a scholarly environment for the kids. Children rehearse in the production, but they also have a mandatory three hours a day of studying. Marie assists the kids with their assignments, while becoming close with their parents.
Despite being a Wagner girl at heart, her favorite production to work on has been Pagliacci (which returns this Saturday) because it’s a huge spectacle. Children love being a part of it; they get to run wild with clowns, acrobats, and other circus performers. The festival aspect also means the children never stop in the show and Marie believes that’s the best way for them to stay engaged in and with opera.
Other productions that have made a big impact on Marie include two Benjamin Britten operas: Billy Budd and The Turn of the Screw. The latter featured 12-year-old Michael Kepler Meo in the leading role of Miles– a great opportunity for a young performer.
When she’s not involved with opera, Marie also studio teaches on films and television. She has even been interviewed by The New York Times for being the child-welfare representative on a BBC series about “OctoMom” (Nadya Suleman) in 2009. It’s safe to say that Marie always keeps herself busy doing what she loves – teaching children.LA Opera is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization dedicated to the greater good.