Last week, my children and I got to hear professional opera singers perform at an Explore Opera! for Kids event at the Las Palmas Branch Library. There will be an even bigger Explore Opera! for Kids event this weekend at the Central Library, on Saturday, August 19, 2017 at 12 p.m., featuring excerpts from OPERA San Antonio’s upcoming production of Verdi’s Macbeth.
The performers at the Las Palmas event were mezzo soprano Madeline Elizondo and baritone Rob Saldaña, accompanied on piano. Both Elizondo and Saldaña will perform again at Central Library, joined by more singers.
The program at Las Palmas featured arias (songs) from several well-known operas, including The Barber of Seville, Carmen, and Die tote Stadt. Elizondo and Saldaña took time between each aria to introduce opera concepts to the all-ages audience. Some facts we learned:
- The un-amplified voice—no microphones—is one of the things that distinguishes opera from other types of vocal performance, like musical theater or popular music.
- The word “opera” is Italian and means “works.” The first operas were collections of songs performed together, which the singers began to act out; add costumes and more elaborate staging, and you have the opera we know today.
- Opera music was the popular music of its time, from the 16th century to the early 20th century.
- Operas are written (and sung) in many different languages. At Explore Opera!, we heard arias sung in Italian, French, and German.
- Singers’ voices are in different ranges. Elizondo is a mezzo soprano, which means she often plays supporting roles—with a few exceptions, such as Carmen, a bad-girl leading lady.
- Opera librettists (writers) and composers often make unexpected choices. The audience was surprised to learn that, in the soulful aria from Die tote Stadt, Saldaña was playing the role of a clown.
Elizondo and Saldaña also answered questions from the audience.
On August 19, 2017 at 12 p.m., visit Central Library for another Explore Opera! for Kids event, with more guests, more of opera’s “Greatest Hits,” and excerpts from the upcoming production of Verdi’s Macbeth. Families are welcome. Explore Opera! for Kids is supported by the Texas Commission on the Arts.
As the first production of its 2017-18 season, OPERA San Antonio is presenting Verdi’s Macbeth on Friday, September 8, 2017 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, September 10, 2017 at 2:00 p.m. in the H-E-B Performance Hall at the Tobin Center for the Performing Arts. To purchase tickets, go online or contact the box office.
These images, and the title image at the top of the post, are courtesy of the Glimmerglass Festival, from whom OPERA San Antonio is borrowing sets and costumes for Macbeth.
More about OPERA San Antonio:
- “OPERA San Antonio Brings Fantastic Mr. Fox and His World to Life,” Inga Cotton, San Antonio Charter Moms, September 19, 2014
- “Sneak Peek at Madama Butterfly with OPERA San Antonio,” Inga Cotton, San Antonio Charter Moms, October 1, 2015