September 13, 2012
This is a terrific program for small children, ages 7 to 10, or between first and fifth grade: September to March — you sign up for the entire year, with no in and out privileges. It’s located at the West Portal School from 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and it is usually conducted as a master class by a member of the local opera community. No more than 12 children to a class.
It all leads up to a 10-minute opera, which is completely done by kids. This is not adults in disguise or kids as puppets.
Last year’s opera was Creatures of the Night, a spooky little fairy tale about a girl who gets lost in the woods, which at first is a dreamy experience in meadows full of flowers. But then night falls and out comes a fox, a crocodile, goblins, and … a werewolf. The little girl is surrounded and about to be eaten when suddenly a sandman appears, throws sand on the moon, which reduces the werewolf to human form, and everyone is saved. The sandman takes a bow.
On the way to this scenario kids were given a starting point: Choose a location for the opera. Early suggestions included the inside of a toe, underwater, and the Hearst Castle.
The effort includes writing the libretto, composing music, orchestrating movement and dance, designing and building sets, making costumes, and putting on the show. The opera last year was performed at the Alcove Theater off Union Square, which may well be this year’s venue as well.
The mastermind of this 1-year-old company is Erin Bregman, a playwright herself, a member of PlayGround and Just Theater, and in her fifth year as a teaching artist in the ARIA program sponsored by the San Francsico Opera. ARIA is an outreach program that allows residents to find ways to partner with public school teachers. “I’m on a long leash,” says Ms. Bregman “Our program gets to be a lot more intensive than the typical ARIA program.”
Fall semester begins on Sept. 18. Register online at www.littleopera.org