Monday, March 14, 2016

Art Days!

Matt McNabb, Opera for All Teaching Artist

The students at Field elementary school were treated to a wonderful surprise last Tuesday morning! Two of our guest artists, Abby and Julia greeted the kids with paint and enthusiasm, and a specially sketched backdrop created for each class based on drawings the students had done the week prior. After a great demonstration from our artists on how to paint with creativity yet frugality, the students dived head first into a world where they were able to create pink high rises, orange roofs and blue/purple/grey skies. Georges Seurat would have been proud.

At Healy and Disney II, our students had the special privilege of experiencing a full­on professional production meeting with our artist Dorian. She shared her sketches and talked about it what it is like to be a set designer in Chicago. Dorian treated the students as her fellow colleagues and it was wonderful to see the students take ownership and pride in their ideas. The students were open­mouthed as Dorian took these ideas and drew sketches on the white boards (complete with perspective), and the ideas came to life. As all the best artists do, Dorian made it look so easy! The kids cannot wait to see their backdrops in two weeks, and they are chomping at the bit to get them painted.

I think what I love most about the Opera for All program is our emphasis on teamwork. The students are seeing first­hand that the process of creating in the visual and performing arts take patience, trust, determination, imagination and above all, collaboration!

I also love that we bring not only music and opera to the students, but also dance and visual arts and acting and directing and design. They truly get a taste of life as an artist, and it’s exciting to be a part of it!

Voice Lessons at Solorio Academy

Emily Cox, Chicago Opera Theater for Teens, Teaching Artist

The students at Solorio have been working extremely hard this past week! We have been continuing our discussion about proper breath flow, proper breathing techniques, negotiating through the passagio and more. The students have been practicing, and have now learned how to set a regular practice schedule. 

The results are clearly showing, both in their weekly lessons and their choral classes. Several of the students have expanded their ranges by half of an octave or more, which has been very exciting and rewarding to see! The students have all been assigned an art song according to their fach, and have been working hard to learn them. Some of the repertoire choices include "Vado ben spesso" by Salvator Rosa, "When A Felon's Not Engaged in His Employment" by Gilbert and Sullivan, and "The Daisies" by Samuel Barber. After learning an initial song, the students will be assigned another for further study in the later part of the semester; they are being encouraged to search through musical databases, websites and other means to find something that interests them personally. They are also being encouraged to audition for solos and shows in and around their community, in order to get used to singing in public. We are hoping to be able to hold a studio recital in late May, so that they can show off their newly-developed voices for all to hear! 

Monday, March 7, 2016

Set Design!

Sara Litchfield, Opera for All Teaching Artist

For the past few weeks, we've been focusing on our choreography and set design, which gives us an opportunity to see another level of our talented students. We very often have some real great dancers and artists emerge who haven't yet stood out in opera class. But as we wrap up these projects, we will be moving into staging our operas and thinking about the dramatization of our stories. 

To prepare for this next step, we created a Prezi for our classes that highlighted the basic ideas about staging and acting like stage directions and thinking about adding "intention" to each line. For each dramatic idea, we had volunteers come up and demonstrate in front of the class. For example, I would give a student a line like "The building is on fire" and first they were instructed to say the line without any emotion or inflection and then we asked the class to give ideas for how our student volunteer can alter their voice, their face and their movements or actions to best communicate the line. I was really impressed with not only our student's acting skills but also their directing ideas. 

I hope that we can continue to draw on our students' directing ideas as we start blocking our show. I think it always helps students not only remember their staging but commit to it when they had a say in the decision behind it. This past week, we passed out scripts and announced our casts. It's always a delight to watch our classes get so excited about their roles and I think this is when they really start to take ownership of their operas. I'm really looking forward to watching their stories come to life in the coming months!

Friday, March 4, 2016

Beauty and the Beast

Beauty and the Beast

This Spring semester,              
Chicago Opera Theater for Teens 
is putting on the production of Disney's "B &B."

Yep, with all the magic and mystery....our teens will sing and dance their way into your hearts.  Plus for an extra special treat, we have invited some of the STAFF of Solorio to dress up in full costume for the spectacular show-stopping number "BE OUR GUEST!"

Please join us on either 
Friday, May 6 at 7pm or Saturday, May 7 at 2pm 
in the Solorio Auditorum/Gym