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Opera sings for area third graders

October 10, 2008

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    October 10, 2008
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    Opera Carolina News

Opera sings for area third graders

It used to be over the river and through the woods to grandmother's house she went.

Now, grandmother lives in the glen - "you go left and then right and then left again."

So goes the operatic tale of "Little Red's Most Unusual Day," in which The Big Bad Wolf wears a pinstriped suit, glittery shoes and purple ruffled shirt and Forest Ranger Dudley is enamored with Red's mother and ends up losing his pants.

Members of Opera Express, a Charlotte-based educational touring company part of Opera Carolina, performed the show for about 2,000 Onslow County third-graders during four shows Thursday and Friday at the Northside High School auditorium.

The event, sponsored by Council for the Arts in Jacksonville, is part of the Special Schools Performances program that has brought opera, ballet and puppetry to local first-, second- and third-graders for the past 13 years.

"Some of them it's the first time they've ever been in an auditorium situation and they ‘ooh' and they ‘aah' when they go in," said Connie Wenner, executive director at Council for the Arts. "The kids absolutely love it. They'll come out and say it's the best thing they've ever seen."

Wenner said the program gives teachers and students the chance to see "art come to life."

"They get to see a medium of art form they normally would never see," she said.

The 9:30 a.m. performance Friday drew children from Richlands, Northwoods, Blue Creek and Parkwood elementary schools.

Lisa Cherubini, a third-grade teacher at Northwoods Elementary, said exposing the children to opera in this format, or any other format, may be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for some.

"A lot of these kids don't ever get to do anything else," she said. "They love it. They get a lot out of it because some of them will never get to see anything like it."

One of Cherubini's pupils, 8-year-old Chris Brannan, said he enjoyed the opera.

"It was really good," he said. "It was loud and really cool."

Chris said he particularly enjoyed seeing the lumberjack character chase after The Big Bad Wolf.

Bailey Hays, 9, from Parkwood Elementary, was another fan of The Big Bad Wolf and liked when the wolf stole Dudley's clothes.

"It was really funny. I thought it was hilarious," she said.

Following the performance, the cast members held a question and answer period where they took questions from the eager audience.

"The Q and A is always the telling part of our day. When we do Q and A, they have these wonderful questions," said Stephanie Foley Davis, who played Red's mother and grandmother. "That's the best part for me."

One of the important things about the children's operas is that they use real opera music. "Little Red's Most Unusual Day" was set to music originally from "The Barber of Seville," said William Roberts III, who played The Big Bad Wolf.

"It exposes them to famous music at the same time," Roberts sad.


Contact Jacksonville/Onslow government reporter Molly DeWitt at 910-219-8455 or mdewitt@freedomenc.com. Visit www.jdnews.com to comment