Opera-tunity Outreach Program

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What is the “Opera-tunity” Outreach Program?

As a selected presenter of Met Live in HD programming, The Colonial Theatre has been given the opportunity to invigorate a loyal audience of opera lovers in the region. Early indications show that these loyalists are excited to experience world-class opera in the comfort of our theatre on our large screen. However, there were two challenges The Colonial had to address in order to maximize this Met Live in HD opportunity:

  • How do we increase attendance for Met Live in HD opera performances?
  • How can we effectively expose a younger audience to opera?

These questions have led to the development of a pilot program called “Opera-tunity.”

The children's opera Little Sweep, presented as part of the Colonial's Opera-tunity program in April of 2016.
The children’s opera Little Sweep, presented as part of the Colonial’s Opera-tunity program in April of 2016.

The study of opera presents a powerful strategy for integrated instruction, including a connection to literature, social studies, foreign language and the arts. Inherently multidisciplinary due to its involvement with music, theatre, dance and visual arts, opera gives students the opportunity to learn and grow in several art forms simultaneously. Attending opera performances is an active form of engagement that elicits critical thinking, artistic cultural literacy, personal interpretation and both individual and community response.

The goals of “Opera-tunity” are to educate, inspire and make the art form of opera more accessible to students from 5th grade through college, as well as to develop a younger audience for Met Live in HD performances at The Colonial. In order to achieve these goals, the pilot program includes these four action items:

  • The Colonial has partnered with Met Opera, sending core staff to professional development workshops conducted by The Met’s Live in Schools Program.
  • Two to four Met Live in HD performances from the annual season will be selected for in-depth study prior to the performance.
  • Artistic outreach will be available for schools to engage students, possibly to include the hiring of Raylynmor Opera artists and instructors.
  • Performance opportunities will be created for young opera students with Keene State College and Raylynmor.
  • Study guides will be created by the Metropolitan Opera House with lesson plans based on core curriculum. These will then be distributed to teachers at schools willing to participate in our program.
  • Tickets to the select performances will be subsidized for the students and an accompanying teacher or parent, allowing them to attend at no cost.

Vicky Pittman, Director of Education & Community Engagement at The Colonial, oversees the project. She will utilize already existing relationships with various schools and educators in the tristate region along with techniques acquired through the Met Live in Schools workshops to develop the most appropriate and effective outreach. By engaging members of Raylynmor Opera, JoAnne Mead, music teachers in local schools and Keene State College’s music department, she will defer to artists with opera experience and knowledge to instruct the students in Met Live in HD performances that will be attended as part of the class or group curriculum. The Colonial will facilitate pre- and post-show Q&A sessions and/or receptions for the students to provide feedback on their experience in a group setting.

The Opera-tunity Program is funded by:

  • The Putnam Foundation
  • The Timken Company Charitable and Educational Fund, Inc.
  • Mascoma Savings Bank Foundation
  • Metropolitan Opera House

“Opera-tunity” is now in it’s fourth year and continues to grow. This program fits within The Colonial Theatre’s Education and Outreach overview:

The Colonial is passionately invested in the cultural health of our community through our commitment to providing outreach for the underserved and educational opportunities for all ages. Our educational programs are designed to engage children, teens, and adults in the artistic process, cultivate appreciation of the performing arts, and make the performing arts a vital and fundamental part of school and community life.

How can you get students or children involved in this program?

If you are a teacher or home schooler who would like to start an after-school program (opera club) or do work in the classroom with students OR if you are a parent who would like to find out if there is an opera club or class in your school or region that your child can attend, please contact  Vicky Pittman at vicky.pittman@thecolonial.org.

Children must be prepared before attending an opera so they know what to expect and how to understand the artform they are experiencing. There is study material available to help you prepare them.