Tuesday, June 26, 2012

You probably know more opera than you think...

Have you heard about Opera Colorado’s new education program, POPera? It’s geared towards elementary schools looking to expose their students to opera for the first time… or what the students think is the first time. The main objective of POPera is to make kids realize that even if they have never seen an opera before, they already have heard the music in TV shows, commercials, and movies.

My personal favorite POPera example is the Seinfeld episode when the gang gets tickets to Pagliacci and the opera’s story is played out in real life as Elaine’s boyfriend becomes obsessed with her and follows her to the theater in a clown outfit. Too bad this example wouldn’t fly with 7 year olds… Instead, I chose examples they would identify with immediately: scenes from Pixar’s UP, a Pepsi commercial with Beyonce singing her rendition of the “Habanera,” and, of course, Bugs Bunny.

Photo credit: YouTube

Then, our Young Artists sing the opera piece that the student saw in the clip.

Dustin Peterson, John Allen Nelson, and Chris Besch working with students during POPera at The Logan School

This program has proven to be an important piece to the puzzle for certain schools. Our last performance this season was at Fairview Elementary which has 93% free or reduced lunch rate and where most of the students come from Spanish speaking homes. POPera really helped introduce them to this art form in a way that I don’t think a Hansel & Gretel performance could have done. They were able to see commercials that they have already seen before but view them in a new light; they were able to interact with the singers, breaking the barrier between performer and audience; and they courageously acted and sang in front of their peers. My face hurt from smiling so much that day. The students were so responsive and engaged. We have already booked another POPera performance at Fairview Elementary in May 2013.

If you have some favorite examples of POPera that you would like to share, please leave a comment below.

By: Meghan Benedetto, Manager of Education & Community Programs

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