Colleen Maybin, Education and
Community Engagement Manager
Project Opera is a program for elementary students in Grades 4 to 7 based in Metro Vancouver schools and hosted by Vancouver Opera (VO). Students work with VO Teaching Artists and professionals from the opera community to write, stage, and perform their own original work. Sponsored by Odlum Brown Limited.
This week sees Project Opera starting a new session at Douglas Road Elementary in Burnaby BC. We are working with two classes – Mr. Hutton’s Grade 6/7 class (Division 1) and Mr. Milloy’s Grade 4/5 class (Division 3). Our first workshop focused on building a definition of opera based on what the students know right now before we begin. Between the two classes only a couple of students had seen an opera before. Most of them only knew opera based on TV and even then it was mainly the music that they recognized. So we brainstormed some ideas and watched a performance of Largo Al Factotum from The Barber of Seville and then added more ideas to our mind map. It was great to watch them watch the video – both classes were riveted by the performance of Figaro and clapped when it was done. This is a good sign!!
Then the fun began! In both classes we played a game to come up with definitions of seven vocabulary words related to opera. Working at table groups, the students tried to figure out the meaning of the words through clues given to the whole class. There were some very creative guesses that were grounded in what they already knew about music in general. “Recitative” and “libretto” turned out to the most challenging with “Super” leading to the most creative – we brainstormed many variations on “great”, “fantastic”, “wonderful” before the hint that it was a noun led them to actor.
The final part of the workshop involved theatre games. It was clear that the students already have a great sense of trust when working with each other as they all leapt into acting out their “secret” while trying to find someone else in class with the same “secret”. It is going to be a fun experience working with both of these classes and we can’t wait to see them again next week.