Tag Archives: Community Education
Fifty plus children are lined up onstage, holding hands and singing a victory march at the end of the children’s opera Brundibár as part of LA Opera’s Opera Camp. At the center, holding hands and singing with the same energy as the children, is Holocaust survivor Ela Weissberger. Before her passing last month, she traveled around the world to attend nearly every performance of Brundibár. Her story has been an inspiration and a driving force behind Opera Camp.
Ever wondered how children get the “opera bug”? For 10 year-old Jesse McBride, it all started with a visit to his school by LA Opera. In 2017, LA Opera brought their Elementary In-School Opera program to Rockdale Elementary, where Jesse attended 4th grade. For 5 weeks, he and his classmates worked to learn their roles as the chorus in The Legend of Cannery Row, culminating in a performance for their fellow students and families.
On March 16 and 17, LA Opera Education Department mounts the return of Jonah and the Whale, an opera for audiences of all ages by composer Jack Perla and librettist Velina Hasu Houston. Following in the tradition of previous Cathedral Project productions, Jonah and the Whale features professional opera singers in the leading roles and members of the LA Opera Orchestra, performing along with a large group of community-based performers drawn from schools, churches, choirs and orchestras from every part of Los Angeles.
Interested in attending? Here for five elements of the upcoming production that make it worth seeing! You can purchase tickets by clicking here.
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.
When tenor Nathan Granner and mezzo-soprano Joanna Lynn-Jacobs step on stage for Saturday Mornings at the Opera it will be their first time performing with LA Opera. But it won’t be their first time performing together. They have spent the last couple of years performing together as classmates at the Herb Alpert School of Music at UCLA. Both are excited to use their skills and training to share their love of opera with young audiences.
Opera not only offers transcendence and expands imaginations, but can also educate the public on social issues. LA Opera’s Elementary and Secondary In-School Operas do just that. Students from all over Los Angeles County learned this themselves just a few weeks ago when they performed alongside LA Opera artists in the Secondary In-School Opera (SISO), The White Bird of Poston, composed by Eli Villanueva with libretto by Leslie Stevens. This opera explores themes of service and citizenship, as well as the issues of prejudice, racism and cultural differences.
When your teacher tells you that an internationally-renowned opera singer is coming for a visit, you many not even know who they are or even imagine what they could possibly have in common with you. For students whose schools are part of LA Opera’s Cast to Class program, that preconceived notion is quickly erased when someone like Javier Camarena steps through the door.
Have you ever listened to an opera recording and longed to perform it? Have you ever watched a production at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion and longed to act? LA Opera wants to make those dreams come true. We are working with the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels to produce a community opera production of The Festival Play of Daniel, conducted by James Conlon, LA Opera’s Richard Seaver Music Director. The Festival Play of Daniel is an inspiring medieval musical drama, a retelling of the beloved Old Testament story of Daniel in the lion’s den.
Imagine that we lived during the time of Verdi, Puccini, Mozart, Wagner, and the other great composers of the classical repertoire and we could hear them share their thoughts and feelings during the final rehearsals of their operas before opening night. Thanks to today’s technology, we have the opportunity to hear composers, directors, artists and production team members share their thoughts about new operas being created right now.
I am a volunteer Community Educator for LA Opera, traveling through Southern California talking opera to civic and social organizations, philanthropic groups, and schools. One of the best parts of volunteering is that we get to do our own research and write our own talks about Opera. For the company’s current production, Moby-Dick, I thoroughly enjoyed learning not only about Melville’s classic (did you know that American artist Rockwell Kent designed cover images for the 1930 edition of the novel?), but also learning more about Jake Heggie’s adaptation. Heggie is a young contemporary American composer who has created a great new opera based on the book that has been praised as “the great American novel”—no simple task. He has given many interviews describing his approach to presenting the story in operatic form, and many are available on-line. In Heggie’s interviews, he explains the choices he made in composing music for the various parts of the story, the arc of the music from the start of the first act to the dramatic conclusion of the opera, the music he chose to create for each of the main characters, and other insights into the work.
Many opera lovers today approach contemporary opera with trepidation, preferring the familiar stories and music from operas they have been exposed to for years. The resources now available on the internet can help make contemporary opera more approachable, by providing insight into new operas by the composers, directors, and performers into the music. LA Opera’s current production of Heggie’s Moby-Dick offers you a chance to see a great production of an epic American opera, and the internet can provide you with a wealth of information you can review before you head to the opera house to enhance your experience.