Tag Archives: Secondary In School Opera
Over the past two years, 50 adventuresome students from Zoo Magnet High School helped create a new opera. Next week, they will perform the show for the first time. Inspired by the creative process and the adrenaline rush of performing, these teens—even the ones who originally may have resisted the idea of enjoying opera—are now embracing their power as artists and storytellers.
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.
Laurie Peebler first joined LA Opera as a dancer.
She performed in all four operas of Wagner’s Ring Cycle spanning our company’s 2008/2009 and 2009/2010 seasons. Prior to joining LAO, Peebler’s performance background was focused on classical theater and small dance productions.
“I considered myself a Shakespeare nerd with movement experience when I auditioned for The Ring beside a mix of actors, dancers, stunt performers, circus artists and puppeteers,” Peebler explains. “The director led us through physical storytelling exercises that uniquely suited my skill set. I booked the job, my first time working in the world of opera, and it changed my life.”
After working on the Ring Cycle, Peebler went on to be featured in LA Opera’s La Cenerentola as well.
Then personal developments led to a shift in professional priorities.
“I became a mom and wanted more control over my schedule,” says Peebler. “At the same time, I hoped to stay connected to this amazing company and to feed my love of performing.”
That’s when Peebler traded late night rehearsals and day-long auditioning for working with kids as part of our Secondary In-School Opera (SISO) program.
Every year, LA Opera brings opera into schools through its Secondary In-School (SISO) program, through which students and teaching artist join forces over the course of 10 weeks to produce an opera. This innovative and influential program shares the art form with kids across Los Angeles. It’s an enriching experience for both students, teachers, and the artists involved in the program, including baritone Leroy Villanueva.
Teens and opera – there’s a connection there. You might think that teenagers in Los Angeles would never think about it or avoid it, assuming it’s old fashioned and boring. But, LA Opera is challenging that narrative by bringing opera directly to Los Angeles’ secondary school students.
Every year LA Opera’s Education and Community Engagement’s program, Secondary In-School Opera (SISO), offers an original opera specifically commissioned for middle and high school students. On as many as 10 campuses across all five Los Angeles districts, students work together as an ensemble to build critical music and performance skills, under the direction of professional teaching artists from LA Opera. During one class period a week, for ten weeks each fall they put together an opera. On performance day a truck rolls up to the campus with sets, costumes, technical equipment, and more. Students are joined by several professional opera singers and orchestra members for their final dress rehearsal and a stirring performance for their peers, parents and special invited guests.
If bringing this art form to students was all SISO offered, it would be amazing.
But wait, there’s more!