A professional singers viewI first became involved with Opera Brava’s education projects about three years ago having been working as a principal singer with various companies, including all the major British Opera companies Covent Garden, English National Opera and Glyndebourne and several abroad since 1977.
Opera has a reputation for being elitist along with other so called ‘fine arts’ but I felt that children could benefit greatly from the process of creating an opera performance from scratch (with professional help) in a few days, but was uneasy about the way many arts projects strayed away from the core content of an art form in order to make accessibility the prime consideration.
I was happy to discover that with the Opera Brava projects accessibility and participation for all was achievable without throwing out the core recognisable facets of an opera performance. By this I mean disciplined and accurate singing, creating believable characters, with real props (made by the children), costumes and sets. This is achieved by the participation and inspiration of proper professional singers, designers, musicians and director. These ‘professional elements’ are interwoven with the participation of the children who are rehearsed in a professional manner to produce the best possible performance from the particular group of children in question.
This does not deny the importance of the process as well as the finished product but seeks to combine the two so that children experience a rehearsal process and performance recognisable as ‘opera’ should they eventually go to a theatre, whilst also benefitting from the creative process as an educational tool. I have been happy to carry on my involvement with the company and enjoyed both the process and performances with hundreds of children.