Tuesday, February 9, 2010

A Little Culture

Last week we went to the opera!

Not at a big performing center, just our little ol' elementary school gym. Thanks to our parents club and the National Endowment for the Arts, our school had the honor of hosting Opera for the Young. Last week Wynne and I went to see our grade schoolers participate in "Rusalka", a Russian version of "The Little Mermaid". OFY is a fully professional opera company based out of Madison, Wisconsin that provides arts educational programming to young children around the country. The fourth and fifth graders were given the opportunity to audition for chorus parts, and Ally was honored to be a part of the Creatures of the Reef!

I was impressed not only with the clever way the production was staged (PVC pipes of various heights and canvas) and professional opera singers (2 men, 2 women, and a skilled accompanist), but also with how well behaved the kindergarteners through fourth graders were while sitting on a cement floor for 45 minutes. Wynne sat on my lap or stood and watched with engagement during the performance, only asking a few questions along the way. Good thing we're all familiar with "The Little Mermaid" story, or I would have had difficulty deciphering most of the lyrics!

Ally and her friends did a really good job of interjecting energy into the production. They had been rehearsing their singing and speaking parts with the music teacher for a few months, and the professional actors wove them into the show seamlessly. Simple choreography was used, and given my theater background I couldn't help but be a little jealous of the whole artist-in-residency thing going on. (Another "Why didn't I think of that?" moment!) I think the most popular parts of the production were when the pianist donned a shark hat (Wynne asked lots of questions about that) and when Rusalka rode down the aisle on her sea horse (made out of a scooter). It was a tad long for youngsters, but a great arts exposure for everyone.

That night when Ally asked me what my favorite song was, I was ashamed to realize that none of them really stuck with me. (Could it be the opera libretto was a bit over my head?) But I did a quick cover in asking her to sing her favorite part back to me. At any rate, it was a wonderful experience for all of the kids and another reason why I'm so grateful for their public education. See, there are a few good things left in the public schools (I say with a wink)!

Shout with joy to God, all the earth!
Sing the glory of his name;
make his praise glorious! --Psalm 66:1-2


Blogger Astrid said...

I think that's awesome! I can't wait until our first graders get a chance to join.

February 9, 2010 at 7:30 AM  

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