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What is Youth Opera International?
Typically beginning on a Monday and culminating with a performance on a Friday evening, the Youth Opera International week-long workshops offer three elements of theatre -- singing, dancing and acting -- come together in an original children's opera. During the months preceding opera week, the children and support team of adults begin the preliminary work: learning the story, spoken lines and songs, preparing sets, props and costumes, and engaging in cultural studies related to the theme/culture of the opera. Youth Opera International provides the libretto, musical score, guidelines for casting, costuming, set and lighting design specs, and prop list, along with a sample DVDs of previous performances and CD for rehearsals well in advance.
During opera week, each full day is spent rehearsing with Judy and Sanford Jones. The day begins with physical and vocal warm-ups, singing the cast songs, and learning the language of the theatre. From mid-morning to mid-afternoon, the children work on solo and small group songs and choreographed dances. By mid-week, rehearsals move to the performance space and staging is begun. Dress rehearsal is Friday morning and the performance is Friday evening.
As the 'reviewers' (children and adults who have taken part in the opera experience) keep telling us, the Opera Workshops make a lasting impression on young lives, giving them heightened self-confidence and goal-oriented focus. It also brings whole school communities -- children, parents and staff -- together in a productive and joyful event. A number of schools make this an annual event, either during the school year or as a summer camp offering. Most schools use this event as a fundraiser as well and tickets are sold in advance. When it is a summer opera workshop, the children come together one week prior to opera week to do the preliminary work.
The yearly season for opera bookings with the Joneses is arranged in June, with bookings made one year in advance. Performance rights on a royalty basis are also available (production material is supplied but on-site direction is not provided by the Joneses.)
"Opera brings to the school what no other event does - Sanford and Judy Jones. Their combined talents in music and dance give the children experience with theatrical professionals who are also delightful with children. They are demanding, hard working, loving and generous with their time and talents. Each opera is a total cultural event, giving the children opportunities to learn about the history, fables, music and dance of another place and time.
Many children come away from opera with a rejuvenated interest in the study of voice, dance or instruments, and all develop grace and poise in front of an audience. The opera is a highlight of our year and these productions are remembered by both adults and children for many years thereafter."
Why Our Children Love Opera