I used to work for Opera for the Young, and I think if you've been reading this blog for a while, that may sound familiar. You can read more about what they do by clicking on the link to their website, but in short, OFY is a professional touring company that travels to elementary schools all over Wisconsin, as well as parts of Minnesota, Illinois, Iowa and Michigan, bringing the opera experience to thousands and thousands of young children. It's better than most outreach programs because the kids actually participate. Every school has a chorus of at least 16 kids that are a part of the show, and sometimes, when you're very lucky, the whole school knows all the songs and sings along. You know how cool it is to hear 400 kids singing "Hoorah for the Pirate King!"? It's very, very cool. The singers and pianists who work for OFY go on the road for a week at a time, so I had to give up the gig when Daniel was born.

Last week, OFY had a performance at an elementary school in Madison, so I took Daniel and Anya to see it. Their show this year is Mozart's The Magic Flute. Every show for OFY is done in English and cut to 45 minutes in length, and the plots are adjusted to be appropriate for young children. Still, I wasn't sure how Daniel would do. He's only 2 years old, after all, and what if he didn't like all the singing or tried to run out to the playground halfway through? I brought plenty of snacks and juice to keep in occupied, and I was also counting on his natural tendency towards shyness and caution around strangers and crowds of people to keep him well-behaved. I guessed right, and he did fine. Of course, I couldn't tell how much he was really paying attention, but I figured it was good exposure in any case.

I thought the show was great. The singers were great, the show was funny and engaging, and the kids at the school were well-prepared. The first aria was Der Hölle Rasche, a.k.a. the Queen of the Night Aria, the one with the high Fs that only certain kinds of sopranos can sing. There are many kinds of sopranos -- lyrics, coloraturas, dramatics, to name a few, and then there are "Queen of the Night sopranos." Most of them are an entity unto themselves because they can sing so freaking high. (The Queen from last Thursday did so at nine-thirty in the morning; if you can do that, you can do anything as far as I'm concerned.)

When we got home, I found that aria on youtube (this video was my favorite), and Daniel has asked to watch it several times. He points to the computer and sings "Yah! Yah!" Is he a future opera fan? Will he enjoy singing someday? Will he be musically inclined? I hope so. I don't want to push him, but I want him to at least appreciate the music around him. I think this OFY performance was a good start.


Andre said…
OFY equals made of awesome!! Sounds like a wonderful program!
Tooz said…
I wish we had something like that in Kentucky--I would have loved to set up a school visit back when I was GT coordinator at our school. I used the position to benefit all the kids, not just the GT kids, and they would have really enjoyed this.
Pam said…
I have found in teaching music appreciation classes that kids always seem to love that aria. I never understood if it was because it's such a catchy melody or because there are so many freakishly high notes in it or just because it's short and usually acted with a lot of enthusiasm. At any rate, it's fun to find classical music that's enjoyable for kids to listen to. I wonder what else fits into that category?

Popular Posts