Tag Archives: Opera Camp
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.
A few months ago, we received an extraordinary letter from Deborah Perlis.
Perlis’s daughter, Ting, took part in two of our education and community engagement programs, and Deborah was eager to share with us just how much Ting’s opera experience helped change her life.
When Ting was diagnosed with autism at the age of 10, she and her mother Deborah didn’t know what do. For the next few years, all they heard from professionals was a laundry list of things that Ting would never do or have. Ting struggled in school, had low self-esteem and rarely spoke of her future, except to ask what would become of her.
Despite all the challenges Ting faces every day, she has always had a love of singing.
On a whim, Deborah reached out to our Education and Community Engagement team to discuss some options for Ting. With their help, Ting began her journey at LA Opera.
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I’d been refreshing my email constantly for days on end, anxiously waiting for the email holding my fate. I auditioned for Opera Camp about a month earlier, and had been waiting for the results ever since. I’d found out about the program when I’d auditioned for Noah’s Flood months before. Patience however, was slowly edging its way out of my grasp. Then, suddenly I saw it:
Congratulations! We would like to inform you that you have been accepted and cast for our 16/17 Opera Camp!!!!
And so it began.
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UPDATE: Maestro James Conlon will be conducting both performances of Brundibár.
One of our beloved Opera Camp’s teaching artists, Judy Johnson, started performing at the age of eight. She sang in church, studied voice in high school and college, and then worked as an actress in Los Angeles. In 2014, she loved her life as an actress, but realized something was missing. After a life spent performing, Johnson wanted to give back to her community in another way.
That desire combined with her love of opera led her to become an LA Opera teaching artist.
Her first role with LA Opera was as Assistant Director for last year’s Opera Camp production of Then I Stood Up. Her enthusiasm for the work and her passion for teaching our campers shines through.
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An Innovative Summer Camp
For the past 17 years, we’ve hosted Opera Camp. It is a two-week immersive program where students aged 9-17 experience all aspects of opera production, guided by LA Opera artists. They are coached in singing, movement and learn about staging, scenic and prop design, and stage management.
Our campers have arrived this week. They’ve been rehearsing and exploring the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion.
But, our campers are also learning about something else.
Opera Camp connects campers to the past and to today’s toughest issues. It brings context to headlines and shows students their potential to impact the world.
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What do Burning Man and LA Opera have in common?
When she’s not leading campers or community members in opera productions at LA Opera, Romero is a co-founder and co-artistic director of aLma.MaddR, a Los Angeles-based interdisciplinary arts collective. The collective’s latest project is a sound installation for an international collaboration called Aluna that will be staged at this year’s Burning Man.
These two gigs aren’t mutually exclusive.
Romero shares that one actually informs the other in the way she makes art. Her community outreach work has helped Romero understand how to use art to connect diverse communities.
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She fell in love with music at the age of seven. Now, Zanaida Robles is an established singer, conductor, composer, and music instructor. As an LA Opera teaching artist, she’s bringing her experience and love for the music to work by inspiring the next generation of opera lovers.
Opera Camp is one of our favorite parts about summer at LA Opera. Watching more than 50 talented kids rehearse and perform opera in just two weeks never ceases to astound us. But, this year’s camp was extra special, because we premiered Eli Villanueva and Leslie Stevens’ Then I Stood Up, a youth opera honoring the contributions of young people to the Civil Rights Movement. From day one, kids not only engaged with opera, but also with civil rights history, in a way that connects past with the present, and brings people together through the power of opera.
While we loved everything about this year’s Opera Camp, here are some moments that really made this year’s program the best yet.
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.
Envision yourself on stage. You’re in character, singing a role you love, and connecting with hundreds of audience members. You’ve worked hard for this moment and it’s more wonderful than you could have ever imagined. It also doesn’t feel like work, because you’ve enjoyed every minute.
This is how I feel every year during LA Opera’s summer youth program, Opera Camp. It’s some of the most rewarding “work” I’ve had the pleasure of doing. This year, I will participate in the camp for the fourth time, for which I am immensely grateful. Over the past few years, I have learned so much from amazing teaching artists and directors (particularly Eli Villanueva, Leslie Stevens, and Karen Hogle Brown) and even Maestro James Conlon.
The camp only lasts two weeks, but it is an intense two weeks. It never ceases to astound me how quickly the camp passes and how much I learn in such a short period of time. Few words can do justice to how working with Eli, Leslie, Karen, and all of the other magnificent performers and teaching artists enhance my (and other kids) knowledge of acting, singing, performance, and an artist’s responsibility. Whether through the lyrics of Hans Krása in Brundibár—in which, in 2011, I played “Little Joe,” a young man, who seeks out aid from unwilling adults to save his ailing mother—or Then I Stood Up—in which, this year, I will play the role of Pastor Jim—LA Opera always makes sure we learn both about performing and the history behind each opera.
Today, National Opera Week kicks off. Running through November 1, National Opera Week is a great opportunity to celebrate opera’s positive impact on communities around the country (and to a larger extent, the world). This got us thinking. What are some of the ways that opera influences community?
It brings us together.
Putting together an operatic production is a feat of epic proportions. Since opera is an amalgamation of several art forms, various artists (singers, designers, writers, even filmmakers) join together for one singular purpose: to bring a story to life.
Yet, opera brings not only artists together. Opera is for all those willing to experience timeless stories, staged theatrically, and sung by the most engaging voices of our time. This can mean a night out in Downtown Los Angeles at the Dorothy Chandler or a date night at Santa Monica Pier for a live HD simulcast at Opera at the Beach.
It educates us about history, society, social responsibility, and just about anything else you can imagine.
Did you know that there’s an opera about Richard Nixon called Nixon in China? Several operas are based on Shakespeare plays and Greek myths that tackle the big themes: love, humanity’s purpose, revenge. There are even short operas based on themes of social responsibility that form the crux of our Opera Camp program. Operas make people think in different ways; they can teach us to see the world through a new lens.
Last week during Arts in Education Week, LA Opera teaching artists spent the day working with students on Orpheus, an original youth opera commissioned by LA Opera, written by librettist Matthew Leavitt and composer Nathan Wang, based on the Greek legend of Orpheus and Eurydice. This is part of a program called Secondary In-School Opera, a ten-week performance workshop that provides secondary schools with a team of teaching artists and directors to show students what it takes to perform an opera. Students meet with the artists ten times to work on the opera between August and October with a performance in November – an engaging experience to foster interest in the world of opera.
For more than 20 years, LA Opera has been exploring the magic of opera with schools, teachers and students from kindergarten through college, all over Southern California. Secondary In-School Opera is just one of the many education programs that make LA Opera a teacher’s paradise. Others include Opera Camp, Opera-U, and LA Opera 90012.
Today’s headlines are filled with stories of inequality, injustice and hate. Understanding our role in changing the world can be daunting. Through its annual Opera Camp program, LA Opera is teaching kids 9 – 17 how every action counts.
For the the past 15 years, LA Opera has hosted Opera Camp, a two-week immersive program where campers learn about opera – the artistry, the production, the skills – and prepares them to perform one. Every year, between 50 and 60 children and teens participate in the camp. … Continue reading