Emma Bonanno, COT Teaching Artist Intern
It’s been a whirlwind semester with Opera for All! Over the past several months the students have been putting together all the pieces of their operas – the songs, the dances, the fight choreography, the props, the costumes, the staging – and finally we have arrived at performance time. During this week and next week, students at all six of our schools had or will have their final performances of Jazz on Fire, and boy, are they excited!
It’s always incredible to see how far these shows come and how fantastic the finished projects are. Many of the students begin our program never having sung, danced, or acted. Most of them have never seen an opera, and maybe don’t even know what an opera is. And here they are, a mere nine months later, performing in their very own opera that they have created! It is such a great feeling to see these students take charge of their work the day of the performance and really knock one out of the park.
The rehearsal process in the weeks approaching a performance is many times tedious and stressful, even for professional adult performers. There were times over the past few weeks when morale was low, students and teachers alike were worried and stressed, and it was hard to keep focused. However, when the students were finally able to get the show in front of an audience, everything came together!
For many of these kids, this was the first show they have ever been a part of - the first time they’ve ever felt the thrill of getting up in front an audience and putting on a performance that they, their teachers, their parents, and all of us here at COT can be proud of. These performances are the point at which they finally see how far they’ve come and take ownership of their work, just like true professionals.
Also like professionals, the students learn through their final performances that the show must go on. Everyone, even the most famous actors and singers, has made a mistake on stage at one point or another – and often these mistakes happen much more frequently than we imagine! None of the Jazz on Fire shows came out with every little tiny piece exactly as it was written on the page and rehearsed, and I wouldn’t have had it any other way. And judging by the smiles, excitement, and laughter following the performances, I think the students would agree with me!