As the culmination of Eastman Opera Collective’s unique month-long residency program, “Opera in the Classroom”, students from the George Mather Forbes School No. 4 will join their mentors from the Eastman School of Music’s Opera Department to perform a fully-staged production of Lori Laitman’s abridged one act children’s opera, The Three Feathers. This Rochester premiere takes place on Tuesday, April 4 at 1:30 pm in the school auditorium by invitation only.
Guided by student-run Eastman Opera Collective’s group of Artist Leaders, the third-to fifth graders in the program designed and created their own costumes, sets, props, choreography, and other traditional features of theatrical productions. Eastman singers take on the opera’s principal roles, with the young students also performing as minor characters and in the chorus.
“Opera in the Classroom is bringing a world-class artistic experience directly to our students,” says School No. 4 Music Teacher Rachel Dobbs. “In addition to exposing students to a new musical genre, our children are empowered to make artistic observations and decisions that they will see put into action on the stage. It’s very exciting!”
Every other school day, a team of Eastman Opera Collective Teaching Artists work with the School No. 4 students from 1:40-2:15 on the creation of The Three Feathers in preparation for the final performance on April 4th. The class of thirty students was split into five production teams: props, sets, costumes, choreography, and directing based on student talent and interest. Classes are spent creating necessary production elements, rehearsing chorus parts, listening to live operatic performances, and learning about opera.
Based on a tale by the Brothers Grimm, this magical opera one-act tells the story of an old king who gives his three daughters magical feathers to pursue a series of challenges and determine which one will inherit the crown. The youngest daughter, the shy Dora, is led by her feather into the Underworld to ask for help from the powerful Frog King. Each of the three visits causes more comic disruption among the Underworld’s choruses of frogs, rats, and bats. Dora summons her courage and compassion to face a series of adventures that change her life. Completing her quest, she saves her father’s kingdom from the plots of her selfish sisters and earns the right to the crown.
Described by Fanfare Magazine as “one of the most talented and intriguing living composers,” Lori Laitman has composed multiple operas and choral works, and over 250 songs, setting texts by classical and contemporary poets (including those who perished in the Holocaust). Her music is widely performed, internationally and throughout the United States, and has generated substantial critical acclaim.
The Eastman Opera Collective (EOC) is a student-run and faculty-advised organization launched in 2015 in collaboration with the Eastman School of Music’s Voice and Opera Department. Led by University of Rochester’s KEY Scholar Jennifer Lawrence and Eastman graduate student Emily Cuk, EOC seeks to unify the Rochester community by sharing Eastman voice students’ love of opera. Through a variety of community performances and educational programs, EOC aims to make opera more accessible for those who have not been exposed to the art form. By presenting opera to the community in unique ways and in nontraditional settings, EOC’s goal is to develop a stronger community connection and an increased appreciation of opera. EOC also provides Eastman’s voice students with invaluable performance and teaching opportunities that will prepare them for the future demands of an operatic career.
More information about Eastman Opera Collective and the Opera in the Classroom initiative is available at facebook.com/eastmanoperacollective .
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