Thursday, October 13, 2011
Kids and Opera
Today the Utah Opera Education Outreach Program visited the middle school I teach at. All students with a fine arts class had the privilege of attending. I spent a portion of every class period this week talking about opera and trying to prepare the students for what they were going to experience. The overwhelming consensus was that opera was boring and for old people even though not one kid I teach had ever seen an opera. I was ready for this presentation to bust some of those preconceived notions wide open.
Freeze Frame: Dr. Miracle was performed and was designed for junior high and high school audiences. During Dr. Miracle, a short comic opera by Georges Bizet, a clever young man disguises himself several times, each time attempting to win the girl he loves from her protective papa. The performers occasionally stopped the action with a "Freeze Frame" device to highlight elements of drama and opera right as they occurred during the opera.
After the program I had my students fill out an evaluation. I was pleasantly surprised to get many thoughtful responses but I did get a good laugh from other responses.
Here is a sample of my favorite responses:
Question: On a scale of 1-5, 5 being best, how good were the performers in their presentation?
-"I rate the performers a 5. They were very loud and knew what they were doing."
-"4. They were not bad singers, but the "tenor" was way too high to be a tenor" (thank you 14 year old voice expert)
-"2.5- it was ok. I only connected with the omelet" (an omelet was a key part of the story)
Question: What did you like about today's opera assembly"
-"The romance part. I think it was the best."
-"I like that the opera was funny, that made it better"
-"Eventually, it ended."
Question: What questions do you have about opera or about today's performance?
-"What did they say?"
-"How did they discover their talent?"
-"None, except why it exists."
In the end I feel like most kids got some enjoyment out of it and were surprised to see young attractive people performing an art that they thought was reserved for boring old people.