Elementary School Students Create Original Operas

April 2, 2004
Students in eight elementary schools are anticipating the performances of opera premieres this spring -- each opera a student creation from start to finish.

Deborah Scesa, music teacher at Farmland Elementary School, brought the Metropolitan Opera Guild's program called Creating Original Opera to the school in 1995. A partnership with the Washington National Opera, along with funding from the Maryland State Department of Education's Fine Arts Initiative, has provided multi-disciplinary training for more than 30 Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) teachers and has allowed for the expansion of the program to eight elementary schools, each with its uniquely-named opera company.

Burtonsville Elementary School, for example, is home to the Red, White and Blue Super Kids Opera Company. Approximately 25 students in Grades 3 and 4 are involved in this year's production, “The Case of the Oil Busters.” The ecology theme stems from the school's special interest in environmental issues and its partnership with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.

In addition to performing their original opera, student responsibilities include writing the script, music, and lyrics, along with set and costume design, publicity, and building their own lights. The entire production process is documented by each company's historians and is highlighted by a hall display of the year's work and the connections to MCPS curriculum.

The opera partnership is a component of the MCPS fine arts strategic plan. It also provides participating schools with access to professional artist mentors, in-school performances, professional development opportunities for teachers, in-service or graduate credit for workshops, and docents to help schools meet program goals.

The schools, opera productions, and performance dates are listed below.

Beverly Farms ES -- 301-469-1050
Kidz Creation Opera presents “Chaotic Bytes”
May 19 and 20 at 7:30 p.m.

Burtonsville ES -- 301-989-5654
Red, White and Blue Super Kids Opera presents “The Case of the Oil Busters”
May 11 at 10:00 a.m. and 2:30 p.m.
May 12 at 7:30 p.m.
May 13 at 10:00 a.m. and 7:30 p.m.

Charles Drew ES -- 301-989-6030
Lights, Camera, Opera presents “Rags and Riches”
May 13 at 7:30 p.m.

Farmland ES -- 301-230-5919
La Clevique Kids Opera Company presents “Rock-a-Bye Dragon”
May 26 at 10:00 a.m. and 7:30 p.m.
May 27 at 7:30 p.m.

Fox Chapel ES -- 301-353-8055
Two Paws Up Opera Company presents “One, Two, Three, a Jester Comedy”
June 2 at 1:45 and 7:30 p.m.
June 3 at 9:30 a.m. and 7:30 p.m.

Greencastle ES -- 301-595-2940
Kids Opera Castle of Stars presents “Chickens, Cheaters, and Champions”
May 26 at 9:30 a.m. and 2:00 p.m.
May 27 at 8:00 p.m.

New Hampshire Estates ES -- 301-431-7607
Sparkle Kids Opera Company presents “Reaching for Freedom”
May 12 at 10:00 a.m.
May 13 at 10:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m.

Potomac ES, -- 301-469-1042
Thrilling Third Grade Opera Stars presents “Who are the Champions?”
May 26 at 10:30 a.m. and 7:00 p.m.
May 27 at 10:30 a.m. and 7:00 p.m.

NOTE: News media are welcome to cover preparations for the opera productions, as well as the performances. Arrangements can be made by calling the individual schools.

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