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Arts program brings a taste of the opera to elementary students

January 30, 2008

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    January 30, 2008
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    Opera Carolina News

Arts program brings a taste of the opera to elementary students

KANNAPOLIS - Most second- and third-graders in Cabarrus County will be able to say by the end of the week that they've seen an opera.

Opera Carolina performed "How Nanita Learned to Make Flan" for seven elementary schools Tuesday at the Kannapolis Performing Arts Center.

Opera Carolina will perform all week, not just at the Kannapolis Performing Arts Center, but also at Hickory Ridge and Jay M. Robinson high schools.

Students from both of the county's public school systems, as well as Carolina International and Cannon School, are scheduled to attend those shows while in school.

The opera was part of the Cabarrus Arts Council's Students Take pART in the ARTs program, which brings professional arts performers to every grade level.

Opera Carolina performers kept the experience light-hearted with exaggerated acting and prop use, to which the children responded with laughter.

While performed in English, the story was set in a Mexican village, which allowed actors to incorporate Spanish numbers, colors and basic conversational phrases, like "buenos dias" for "good morning."

"I think this performance provides an opportunity for kids to see an opera they can relate to," said arts council volunteer Donna Mullinax.

Opera Carolina was the fourth performing arts program the Cabarrus Arts Council has hosted this year. Some grades have already seen storyteller Donna Washington, Obakunle Akinlana's "African Cultural Experience," and the Open Dream Ensemble's "Max and the Indexicon."

The council created the Students Take pART in the ARTs program to give children early exposure to opera, as well as dance and musical instrumental performances, said educational coordinator Sara Heiser.

"There are children here who would never see a professional performance had it not been for the arts council and the great partnerships we have with Cabarrus County and Kannapolis City schools," Hiser said.

Schools also received detailed study guides to incorporate the opera into teacher lesson plans.

"I'm very excited for our children to get this cultural opportunity," said W.M. Irvin teacher Kim Gregg.

By Justin Vick