…the school year has begun well; this is my third year in the Washington National Opera/DC PS, Guest Artist Teaching program. I am working in 3 schools this term. The Look-In presentation, at the Kennedy Center, was terrific; it flowed with an engaging narrative that was delivered by ‘archetypal’ characters, created by students from the Duke Ellington School for the Arts. Engaging, informing, entertaining, illuminating –and fun! When I arrived at the Ross Elementary School, for my first session after the event, I found my class excited to engage in some ‘out-of-the-box’ conversation; the most intriguing concept they were considering was whether or not opera was opera because “people” sang it. I asked them to consider that question; was opera “opera” because it had people, or could opera be something with no ‘people’ at all..? My 5th graders, already seasoned by a previous year’s class on opera, really grappled amongst themselves with this question –but finally determined that ‘people’ were not needed for opera to be 'opera'; opera could be something where inanimate objects were given “voice” to sing. My next session with this particular class is next week –and I found something to reinforce the direction of their thinking; it is the Gatto duetto –the “Cat Duet”- attributed to Rossini. As it happens, as I was scrounging through You Tube for an example of this, I found a clip that had been done by the Washington National Opera, in 1996, at the Kennedy Center! Hopefully this will spark all kinds of conversation!
What do you think..? -We might even move onto Ravel, and his fantastical work of l'Enfant et les Sortileges!
...in these sessions, all things are possible!