Parley’s Park has opera too!
"You’re going to write an opera," said Cindy Pedersen, drama specialist for Opera by Children to Randee Kadziel’s second-grade class.
And, to their own amazement, Kadziel’s second-grade class put on a show for parents, teachers and curious onlookers Friday morning as the first opera of its kind at Parley’s Park Elementary.
"It’s really their opera — it’s learning how to let go and let the children make sure it’s their play," said Kadziel.
"The Treasure Behind the Waterfall," the opera written by the students along with the music and words, began as a concept by Michael Ballam, founder of the Utah Festival Opera, to open the world of creative expression through operatic performances also known as Opera by Children. Ballam, professor of music at Utah State University, states on the Opera by Children’s Web site that the experience of opera production opens the world of creative expression to thousands of children by enhancing their learning, behavior, confidence, social skills and well-being.
Confident and prepared, each member of the cast took part in this adventure story as they set sail on the Good Ship Kadziel to Madagascar, treasure map in hand. Included in the cast of characters were the explorers, Koalas, gymnasts, karate kids and jungle animals. Each child played a part in finding the hidden treasure in the opera.
"I was a tiger, it was fun," said McKenzie Ball, age 7, of her part in the opera.
"They had to all work together to find the treasure," said Pedersen. "The children made most of the stage props."
"The most fun part was digging the treasure," said Lorelei Prettner, age 7, one of the karate kids in the opera.
Utah Opera Festival sponsors opera workshops for schools followed by visits from their script, music and drama specialists to provide mentoring through the process of the opera production. Also provided is day-to-day help through e-mail, telephone and classroom visits when necessary with auditioning, staging, set creation and performances. Each child and participating teacher receives free/reduced tickets to the Utah Festival Opera summer season main-stage performances. For more information, visit http://www.ufoc.org .
"I travel to various elementary schools around the state to train the teachers to put on an opera performance for the kindergarten through sixth-grade classes. Through the years we [Opera by Children’s staff] have seen miracles with the kids. Some kids who didn’t speak started speaking after performing in an opera. We love to see kids soar with their imagination. It helps with all the curriculums," said Pedersen
"It was awesome, they’ve been singing the songs at home all day [after the performance] and recreated the opera scenery," said Morgan Prettner, a parent of one of the opera students. "She likes to be on stage. I think it was so cool that so many people came to watch them perform."
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