Kids Love Opera was 2017 Career Bridges winner Jesse Malgieri’s first experience in children’s outreach, and after the initial jolt of 9:00 am grade school energy, he quickly found his stride over the 3 weeks of school shows and was pleased to be a part of many of these students’ first encounter with opera. He found that the kids were enthralled with the opera stories, especially the ones with a fairy tale to tell, and was impressed with the questions they fielded – such as, “Does it hurt when you sing a high note?” and “How do you make such a loud sound?” Hoping that he has helped to create a budding opera audience, Jesse felt that, at least, Kids Love Opera brought an important awareness to this art form and left a lasting impression on the hundreds of kids who attended.
Robert Balonek (2007 Career Bridges winner) said about Kids Love Opera, “It was really cool being part of the first operatic performance of their lives. I really loved how much participation was involved with the kids. I gave them a few German words to say and they were very quick to repeat it. We also did a sing along with the Toreador aria from Carmen in French. The kids would ask things like, ‘When you learn music, does it get in the way of your school work?’ We told them it actually helps get the creative parts of your mind working, and training in music makes your brain work better. I really think we enlightened a lot of kids! I wish we could do more of this.”
Emily Misch (Career Bridges 2017 winner) was very impressed with her Kids Love Opera experience. “The kids got a lot out of it, and I got a lot out of it, too. It was very inspiring. To get to introduce someone to opera for the first time…that’s pretty cool!” Surprising to Emily were some of the questions which included interest in the actual mechanics of singing. Not so easy to explain with a quick answer! The younger kids were most enthralled with the story of Papageno & Papagena from The Magic Flute while the older kids responded positively to the romantic duet from La Bohème. Chris Cooley, the pianist, “was a hero!” According to Emily he had to improvise on all manner of available pianos and even had to bring his own portable keyboard on occasion.
Community Outreach: Kids Love Opera™
We are committed to introducing opera to children from kindergarten to sixth grade in a way that is exciting and entertaining, leaving the students exhilarated and enriched with a music form that many have not yet had the opportunity to hear and see.
One of the strengths of our program is the enthusiastic participation of the students. Working together with the music teachers in each school, we design a unique program of selections from opera featuring 3 singers from the Schuyler Foundation for Career Bridges Grant Program. Through their teachers, the students learn short selections from the music being performed and join with the singers during the program.
“I must admit to being somewhat concerned when I learned that opera singers would be performing for us. Well, I have to tell you that I could not have been more pleased and amazed by the end of the three assemblies. Our children were rapt! I have been working in elementary schools for several years and this was one of the best musical experiences that I’ve seen children exposed to.”
Greg Middleton, Assistant Principal, Mamaroneck Avenue School, White Plains, NY.
“A few months ago, my children came home to tell me they were going to be studying opera, learning songs and seeing a performance. They actually seemed excited and I embraced this enthusiasm by asking them questions after every music class. I made a special effort to be there on the day of the performance. And then, the singers began. What magic! The children were so mesmerized, so engaged by the performance. They were ENJOYING it. I really got a kick out of hearing all of the children sing the Toreador song with the professionals. It truly was a day my children have never forgotten, and to this day they still sing the songs they learned through your program.
Michelle B., Parent
In the weeks before the performance, the teachers introduce the selected music to their students through recordings, teaching students to sing key melodies, such as the first few lines from the Toreador song from Carmen.
At the assembly our singers describe the text and story line of the materials they will be singing, using the same gestures, emotion and movements to portray the character that they will use when they sing. This enhances the children’s delight and understanding. The performers sing in the original languages of French, German and Italian. At certain points in the performance the students participate singing the melodies that have learned from their teachers.
Through this program we enrich the lives of our school children and their parents and create new audiences for opera.
Career Bridges supports the New York State Learning Standard by providing the opportunity to experience the world of opera through learning the selections in class, listening and then participating with the performers.
For further information please contact
David S Bender, Artistic Director, Career Bridges