Thursday, April 18, 2013

Chicago Opera Theater for Teens - Performance

Chris Richard, COT for Teens Music Director 
What a whirlwind of a week!  Chicago Opera Theater for Teens is having a busy end of program.  On Monday, April 8 we had a big performance with other After School Matter programs at the Museum of Contemporary Art.  It was a wonderful evening of performances by 2 of the dance ensemble and 2 of the vocal groups.  We were lucky enough to set off the night on a bright and positive step with our dazzling performance.  Our teens have been working very hard this term on being a true ensemble - learning how to act, dance and sing as one.  We concentrated this term on 5 strong chorus and group pieces from the world of opera and musical theater.  The students really enjoyed our selections and dove in whole heartedly.  Our list of numbers which we have been able to perform are:
The Anvil Chorus from Il Trovatore by Giuseppe Verdi
Dance a Cachucha from The Gondoliers by Giblert & Sullivan
Fie on Sinful Fantasy from The Merry Wives of Windsor by Otto Nicolai
The Ballad of Sweeney Todd from Sweeney Todd by Stephen Sondheim
One Day More from Les Miserables  by Claude-Michel Schonberg
My co-teach, Caryn Ott Hillman and I decided on these pieces because they would showcase our students talents and really wow the audience.  The Anvil Chorus is such a standard in the opera repertory we wanted to make it our own and have the students give some input as to how we staged it.  We talked with the class about what was going on in the opera's storyline when the chorus comes and asked if they could come up with any ideas how they would stage it.  We asked if they could relate to the chorus and if there were elements in their own lives that could be brought into the piece.  It turned out to be a wonderful piece of a work by all!
Ms. Ott Hillman had a great time delving into the choreography for Dance a Cachucha, really giving it a spanish flare.  I'm sure she can tell you more about in her own blog.
The chorus from The Merry Wives of Windsor is something I brought to the table. I thought it had such interesting juxtaposition of darkness and brightness and the teens really got into the idea of characterization thru those themes.
We were able to show off some of the amazing individual talents in our program by splitting up the solo work in The Ballad of Sweeney Todd.  Again, Ms. Ott Hillman inventive staging of it really took the audience to a creepy and spectacular place.
What can one say about One Day More from Les Miserables?   It is truly a show stopper of a piece (not to mention it finished the first act!)  Our students were so excited to get to work on this piece.  Every day they would ask, 'Are we going to work on One Day More?'  Their enthusiasm was overwhelming.
Today we performed at the Garfield Park Conservatory.  What a beautiful place!  It is such a treasure that our city has.
We were able to sing and dance amongst the stunning flowers.  All of the azaleas and bougainvillea were in full bloom and it framed our students so wonderfully.  The space was gorgeous and our students singing was glorious - what a combination!

We have one more week of program and already we've done so much!  We are proud of each and every one of them!
One more week and one more performance.
In bocca al lupo!
Mr. Richard

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