Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Opera and Kids

This brave mom brought her entire school to the opera.

Opera is where a guy gets stabbed in the back, and instead of dying, he sings.  ~Robert Benchley

  What a lovely thing it is to watch children enjoy something new.  I got to indulge my affections for the younger generation last week when I went to the NAU Opera school performance of Suor Angelica and Gianni Schicci at the Prochnow Auditorium last Thursday.  I was there with around 400 grade school and high school students.

  Nando Schellen, NAU opera director, has always believed in treating children equally and giving them the gift of opera at a young age.  It's never too early to learn the language of love! he seems to say.  So he has been providing free school performances to the students of Flagstaff, Sedona and the entirety of Northern Arizona for the 12 years that he has been here. "This is our future audience," said Schellen.

  I saw 2nd grade students from Haven Montessori skipping across the street while holding hands, wearing little ties, vests, and easter dresses.  They were excited.  I saw students from Sedona High School wearing high heels and prom dresses--and they were excited too!  "It's my first opera," said one girl.  She felt special, "sophisticated."

  Janelle Maycumber, a member of the Flagstaff Home School Network, brought her five sons--ranging from preschool to high school age--for the second year in a row.  "We attended last year and decided to come again," she said.  "It's a little taste of culture for my family."

  As the kids settled into their seats, the opera began.  It wasn't the quietest crowd; there was a baby clamoring, and sometimes I heard a wee bit of shuffling and whispering.  But at certain poignant parts, like when a good Sister would sing "Death is more beautiful than life," the hall was utterly still.  Because these kids got it.  They may not have had the patience for the entire opera, but they were completely open to accepting those moments when the beauty of drama shines through.

  And I enjoyed watching them enjoy it.

Lovely FALA students enjoying themselves.



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