Sara Litchfield, Opera for All Teaching Artist
This past year with OFA, I was lucky enough to spend with the talented students of Chase Elementary. I worked with two 4th grade & two 5th grade classes every week & watched each class create their own unique dinosaur themed opera that could not have been more different from one another's. We had everything from rival carnivore & herbivore lollipop vendors, dinosaurs battling with halitosis to a prehistoric game of Rock, Paper, Scissors that resulted in a meteor shower! Some of our songs were happy & thanked the characters in our story who emerged as the heroes while other classes wrote anxiety driven melodies that dealt with taking wounded dinosaurs to the hospital or running from an exploding volcano. We even included some rapping as well as an MC Hammer inspired dance break! Throughout the creation process, our students were allowed to express themselves in different ways than they are not often allowed within a school setting & through each of the different art forms that exist within an opera (music, drama, dance, creative writing & visual arts). Our partner teachers were so cooperative and encouraging from the beginning. A few of them even stayed late the evening before our performance to decorate the entire gym in our dinosaur motif! Though I try not to pick favorites, there was one 5th grade student with autism that stole my heart & was always so excited to participate in opera class. He not only volunteered to be the first speaker during our winter assembly but also played one of the leads in his classes' performance. He served as a perfect representation of the enthusiasm that I continually see when children are exposed to opera.