Mary Johnston: Why I Became an LA Opera Community Educator

Mary Johnston volunteering with LA Opera

Mary Johnston volunteering with LA Opera

Close your eyes and imagine the most spectacular fireworks display you’ve ever seen. It’s probably filled with starbursts and various different colors that light up the sky, and brings back fond memories and leaves you in awe.

How you feel about that amazing fireworks display you’re picturing right now is how I have always felt about opera.

I have attended opera for more than 40 years in some of the greatest cities for the art form in the country, including New York and Los Angeles. Before becoming a Community Educator, I went to hear the singer’s beautiful voices and did not worry so much about the background on the opera or the composers. I sat and enjoyed the experience.

This all changed when I learned that as the member of the Opera League of Los Angeles, I could be trained by LA Opera’s Education and Community Engagement department to be a Community Educator. It sounded like a great way to give back to the community, while also having fun, and teaching people about opera. So, I decided to join the program.

That was six years ago and it’s been an amazing experience.

Not only have I learned about all the fantastic outreach work done by the LA Opera Education and Community Engagement team, but I have also met a number of wonderful, enthusiastic people at my talks. During one of my first talks about Gioacchino Rossini’s The Turk in Italy, I spoke to 15 middle-school children. To get them in the mood for comic or “buffa” opera, I started my talk by showing them the pie fight from the Three Stooges’s film Three Sappy People (1939). They loved this – and my opera connection – so much that they asked to see the clip again after I finished my talk.

In my time as a Community Educator, I have also become more computer savvy. LA Opera makes sure we have cutting edge information about social media, relevant computer programs, and just any other little thing that might help us get the word out that opera is very much alive here in LA and elsewhere.

I can’t think of better volunteer work.  I learn new things, I meet new people, and I work with bright, dedicated people from LA Opera and the Opera League.  AND IT’S ALL ABOUT OPERA.

Mary Johnston is a retired Occupational Therapist.  She worked for most of her career at the Resnick Neuropsychiatric Hospital at UCLA.  Following retirement she taught part time in the Occupational Therapy program at Cal State Dominguez Hills.  She has been a Community Educator for six years and loves sharing her passion for opera with the greater Los Angeles community.

Interested in becoming an LA Opera Community Educator? Apply here by May 26 for a chance to share your passion for opera with the greater Los Angeles community.

LA Opera is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization dedicated to the greater good.
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2 Responses to Mary Johnston: Why I Became an LA Opera Community Educator

  1. Scott Gross says:

    Is this a paid position or strictly vonuntary?

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