The $100 workshop fee teaches educators how the opera addresses all 15 PA (Pennsylvania) academic standards. I personally attended the student matinee performance called ‘The Elixir of Love’ just to see for myself the engagement the children would have with the arts. I arrived early, just in time to see the school buses drop off dozens of students. They were greeted by Ph.D. Pittsburgh Oprah Director of Education, Marilyn Michalka Egan.
As the classes were being toured through the Benedum, the teachers were given brochures and newsletters (Study Guides) about the opera they were about to watch. The students are then allowed to take pictures and selfies. Then each school was ushered and shown their auditorium seats. Uncontrollable cheering filled the auditorium when the lights dimmed in preparation for the show to begin.
Since the production was sung in Italian with English subtitles displayed on the overhead projector, I was so amazed to listen in on the children’s conversations (kids as youthful as 7) commenting on the circumstances of the main characters’ situations. During the intermission, Marilyn introduced cast member Paolo Pecchioli (Dr. Dulcamara) as they spoke about props and special effects. She made it fun and engaging as the actor talked in Italian the whole time, and then jokingly asked the audience if they understood what Paolo just said. When they all shouted “no,” she then called on conductor Christian Capacaccia who translated.
At the end of the performance each cast member was introduced and given applause for their terrific interpretations. Lead actress Ashley Fabian (Adina) received a standing ovation!
Pittsburgh Opera Education Program isn’t just another reason for kids to get dressed up and miss school, it implements the fundamentals of the essentials of learning in an engaging way. If you are a parent homeschooling your child(ren) this would be a great outlet for your student(s) to engage with others in their age group, introduce an exciting new way to learn and even nurture a hidden passion.
To learn more about Pittsburgh Opera Education programs, please visit their website by going here.