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Grand Opera for the Small Fry

September 11, 2012

Little Opera's Erin Bregman, with Michelle Chandra's origami butterflies Photo by Michelle ChandraLittle Opera is a nonprofit afterschool program for underprivileged children, spreading the word about opera to "a demographic that rarely gets exposure to classical arts." In the manner of El Sistema or, more locally, Frederica von Stade's work with schools in Alameda and elsewhere, Little Opera brings together artists and students without access to the arts — in this case, teaching elementary school children to write their own opera.

The students provide story ideas, write the lyrics, and work with a composer to develop the music, create their own costumes and then perform it.

Little Opera tries to offer scholarships to as many interested students as possible, and to that end, it's running a fund-raising campaign. There is a brief video, with company founder Erin Bregman, about the organization.

Bregman’s background is writing plays and teaching in San Francisco Opera’s ARIA program. She and actor Alona Bach have created an across-the-board education curriculum, including costumes, set design, storytelling, dance, and composition.

Upcoming masterclasses are led by teacher and actor Elena Wright (Sept. 22, 29); movement instructor M. Graham Smith (Oct. 6, 13); mask-maker Christina Shonkweiler Christina (Oct. 20, 27); mezzo Wendy Buzby (Nov. 3); dancer Lisa Morse (Dec. 1); and designer Christine Crook (Dec. 8, 15).

Janos Gereben appreciates news tips, corrections, and words of encouragement at [email protected].