Why I Love Opera Camp

Maurissa Dawson (left) with Holocaust survivor Peter Daniels (right)

Maurissa Dawson (left) with Holocaust survivor Peter Daniels (right)

Spring, 2016.

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.

When you go into Opera Camp, they tell you two things:

1) That you will be working hard and…

2) When we work to perform, we’re telling important stories that are so much bigger than just the characters we play.

This year, we’re telling stories about or connected to the Holocaust.

We’re performing Brundibár, a tale of tale of two children who find, with the help of a Dog (which I have the pleasure of playing), Cat, and Sparrow, that to defeat the bully Brundibár, strength truly lies in numbers. Accompanying the opera is the prelude Friedl, which takes place at one of the numerous secret art classes of Friedl Dicker-Brandeis in the barracks of Terezín, a Nazi concentration camp in Czechoslovakia. Both operas have themes of hope and determination, and truly give a sense of what it means to come together.

As part of opera camp, we took a trip to the Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust, where we learned more about the struggles of Jewish people during World War II. We viewed artifacts and gained insight into the painful experiences of people affected by the war.

When Peter Daniels spoke to us about the Holocaust, we learned even more.

A survivor of Terezín, Daniels shared his vivid memories of his time in the camp. Memories of starvation, of death, and of survival. It was amazing to learn how he lived to see the world as it is today. He lived to see himself free. As Mr. Daniels told us about life during and after the war, I truly understood what we are standing for by performing Brundibár. We’re sharing these stories to make a difference, stand up for what is right in the world and change lives.

Opera, quite simply, is the stuff of life.

It is the ultimate expression through live performance of all that we feel. The combination of music, singing and drama creates a full experience with unprecedented power to move. Opera is an exhilarating experience that affects all, whether you’re performing or watching.

It can sometimes feel hard to get started on that journey, and that’s why it’s important that we want to let everyone know what it’s all about. Opera Camp is an enriching and enlightening experience, and I want everyone to feel welcome to come and try it, because the ones who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones that do.

Maurissa Dawson, a 14-year-old member of Opera Camp 2017, is a rising sophomore at Los Angeles Center for Enriched Studies.

To learn more about and reserve tickets Brundibár, click here.

LA Opera is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization dedicated to the greater good.
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2 Responses to Why I Love Opera Camp

  1. Christie F. says:

    Great job, Maurissa! What an interesting opera this sounds like. I’m so thrilled that LA Opera does this program; it sounds amazing. Keep singing, lady!

  2. Santos Castillo says:

    What an interesting read. I am thrilled that young people are being exposed to diverse topics through opera. From the article I gather that it’s been a very fulfilling experience for you. Keep learning and keep singing! Kudos to LA Opera for having this type of program available.

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