At 5 and 7 p.m. Tuesday in Smith Wilkes Hall, the Chautauqua Opera Company will present a family opera revue for kids from 1 to 101. The program is titled “Hojo-To-Jo, to the Opera We Go,” and will feature four Young Artists singing 15 operatic excerpts.
“Nobody goes into opera for anything other than love, because it’s a lot of hours, it’s a lot of travel,” said opera company assistant director Cara Consilvio. “There’s no better introduction to anything than someone who loves what they do sharing it with other people.”
Consilvio is directing the show with Miriam Charney, a pianist and vocal coach with the opera company. Charney is a teacher at Manhattan School of Music and Vassar College during the academic year. During her time at Connecticut Opera, Charney served as music director for “Opera Express,” a touring children’s program that visited schools throughout Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Hampshire and Maine.
“For many of these kids, this was their first introduction to opera,” Charney said. “No matter how early or how long we had to drive or how little prepared the schools were, it was our responsibility to remember that, and to make it something that would excite and stimulate and energize and interest the kids.”
Tonight’s show is a fully staged, often funny, 50-minute production. Much of the content is educational, with explanations of concepts such as the roles of a conductor and a composer, the process of training to be an opera singer and the pronunciation of terms.
Charney said the show is extremely interactive, with kids conversing with the Young Artists, volunteering to fill different roles and sometimes getting onstage to dance. When the show is over, the singers will be available to sign autographs for the kids and answer questions during a Q-and-A session.
The directors both agreed that the process of training to sing opera is very much like being an athlete, requiring talent, diligence, coaches, teachers and constant maintenance of physical fitness — and not for just any sport.
“It’s like training for the Olympics,” Consilvio said. “If you’re an opera singer on the path to having a full performance career, you can’t ever stop. It’s your life, and you’re either in training moving forward or you’re not really doing it.”
In addition to tonight’s performances, the opera company will present the program at 5 p.m. Aug. 2 in Smith Wilkes Hall.