Young Chautauquans fill Boys’ and Girls’ Club with the light hum of conversations. But today, young Chautauquans will replace the light hum of their daily activities with the booming sounds of opera.
“It’s a great opportunity to introduce kids to opera for possibly the first time — camp is an awesome setting for kids to try new things,” said Alyssa Porter, director of youth and family programs at Chautauqua.
At 10:30 a.m. Friday, July 26 at Club, kids will sing as loud as they can to compete in the annual “So You Think You’re Louder Than an Opera Singer?” Opera Invasion. Steven Osgood, Chautauqua Opera Company’s general and artistic director, is joined by four students in the Voice Program as they give young Chautauquans a taste of opera.
Osgood, Lydia Grace Graham, Gal Kohav, Mathieu Levan and Brandon Mecklenburg will teach the kids about opera as well as the phrases they will sing from the third opera in Chautauqua Opera’s Figaro Trilogy Festival, The Ghosts of Versailles. The four singers play the roles of the opera box ghosts in The Ghosts of Versailles.
For the Opera Invasion, the kids will be split up into two groups and attend a 45-minute class. Osgood said the sessions will introduce kids to the fundamentals of opera, similar to the educational session conducted during a tour of local schools prior to the summer season.
“It’s a time for us to dig in more deeply with what opera means to us,” Osgood said. “We will talk about the musical devices that opera uses to express emotion — pitch, timbre and dynamic.”
To inspire young Chautauquans, the quartet of singers will perform a piece from The Ghosts of Versailles.
After learning about opera and musical devices, Osgood and his team will teach the kids phrases from The Ghosts of Versailles, which they will perform in an end-of session competition.
In the last 15 minutes of the session, the kids will face off with their freshly rehearsed phrases to see who is louder than an opera singer. The group will be split into four sections; each section will be organized by one of the four voice students.
“They’ll figure out who is the loudest from their group,” Osgood said. “And there will be a competition from there — from the two big groups there should be four winners.”
Osgood said this Opera Invasion is a chance to bring opera to kids, hopefully sparking some passion about opera and music.
“If we weren’t to do it, we would be doing everybody a disservice,” Osgood said. “There’s relatively so much less arts in the schools nationwide, and yet here we are with an opera company and this age group who are hungry for activities. We have to do it.”