At London Festival Opera we are passionate about bringing opera to as wide an audience as possible, and especially about the importance of exposing children to music of a high calibre from an early age. Some years ago, therefore, we created a series of programmes entitled ‘Opera Magic’ to introduce opera to school-age children and young people which were premiered at the Windsor Theatre Royal as part of the Windsor Festival. ‘Opera Magic’ has introduced many hundreds of children to the magic of live opera since then and we remain as passionate as ever about the importance of doing so.
We covered in our earlier blog, ‘The Importance of Being Musical!’, how important we believe it is to include music in children’s education; it is not only known to increase brain capacity, but it also teaches children many vital lessons for life – not least that practice and perseverance result in improvement and, eventually, the joy of achieving a goal. In this digital age where results are expected to be immediate this can only enhance and enrich children’s learning at this formative stage. Moreover, including music of all styles in an enrichment programme is tantamount to making a lifetime investment in connecting children to an emotional outlet, which could prove to be life changing as they develop.
Opera is arguably the greatest of all art-forms combining great music, drama, fantastical plots, wonderful costumes and scenery, a live theatre experience, plus the thrill of hearing the human voice in its most refined form. It provides a sensory feast for children and young people who, no matter what most stimulates their individual interest, will undoubtedly find something in the performance which thrills and ignites them. A first visit to the opera can be intimidating and it’s crucial that the experience is a positive one – if it is, they will be hooked for life!
‘Opera Magic’ presents real, full-blooded opera, but with lashings of humour and audience interaction. The pupils will be prepared in advance as their teachers will be supplied with information packs so that before they attend the performance, they already know elements such as the voice categories and the etiquette of shouting “Bravo!” if they particularly like a piece. They will also be prepared to take part in the ‘grand finale’ where the opera singers on stage, the pupils and teachers in the audience will all join forces in singing a rousing celebrated opera chorus together.
The singers will interact with their audience, going amongst them and making them feel part of a shared experience. Some pupils will be invited on stage to take part in the performance, featuring some of the world’s greatest music including the works of Mozart, Rossini, Verdi, Bizet, Puccini and Gilbert and Sullivan.
Our production has a technically straightforward set and rehearsal takes place on the same day as the performance. Depending on the size of theatre or auditorium, accompaniment would range from a pre-recorded backing track, solo piano or a select chamber ensemble.
If you would like to talk about us bringing ‘Opera Magic’ to your school please contact: Philip Blake-Jones (Artistic Director) firstname.lastname@example.org 07802 183847