Monday, April 30, 2012

From Moscow to the South Pacific

Drew Smith, Education Intern at Chicago Opera Theater

These past few weeks have been a flurry of activity for both the Opera for All and COT for Teens programs. As the Opera for All students continue to work on their productions each week, they had a little break from their classes to come out to the Harris Theater for the final dress rehearsal of COT's Moscow, Cheryomushki. You could tell from the moment they got off the bus they were incredibly excited to see the show. Our teaching artists had spent the previous class session going over the plot and characters of the opera so they knew what to expect, but hearing their reactions during the show was a treat! There were "Oohs" and "Aahs"...and some funny "Ewws" (there was a bit of kissing after all in the show). The most magical moment of the opera came in the second half when a ballet was about to start on stage and streamers of blue fabric unfurled from the ceiling and fell to the floor. The kids gasped in amazement and were completely mesmerized by the dancers on stage. Needless to say that part of the opera turned out to be the overwhelming favorite for many of the kids. With a lot of my work with COT being "behind the scenes" it was incredibly rewarding to see first hand the impact that opera is having on our elementary students.

The COT for Teens recently finished up their program with a wonderful shortened version of Rodgers and Hammerstein's South Pacific. They had a busy semester with the Citywide Showcase in the mix, and all their hard work helped them put together a very fun and energetic evening with fantastic singing. Whether it was a solo or ensemble number, the students gave their all and the audience had a blast. They are such a talented group of high schoolers, and it was great to see them have the opportunity to show off their work at the opening nights of Moscow, Cheryomushki and Teseo as well. A small group of students performed a medley of selections from South Pacific in the lobby before each show. It was fun to see the patrons stop and listen, with more than a few of them tapping their feet along to songs that they knew well.

It's hard to believe it has already been four months since I started my internship with COT. It has been an incredible experience so far, and I can't wait to see everything come together over this next month as the Opera for All students work to finish their productions. They have been working hard on music, scripts, sets, props, and to put it all together! Save some time the first week of June to see the performances, you won't want to miss them.

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