Tricksters from Virginia Opera aim to engage young listeners

by | Oct 2, 2015 | What’s Happening

Sunday, Oct. 18, 2:30 pm
Simon Family JCC

When members of the Virginia Opera’s Herndon Emerging Artist program perform Trickster’s Trilogy this year’s traveling fall show, their goal is to inspire young ones in the audience.

Three little operas in one, Tricksters Trilogy is an original piece by Glenn Winters, Virginia Opera’s community outreach musical director.

“The repertoire for children’s opera shows is limited, and most are fairy tales,” says Winters, who has worked on arrangements for children’s works, including last year’s show The Empress and the Nightingale, which was performed at many schools and venues including the JCC.

“The idea of a trickster came to me as an appealing theme for kids, like the Joker in Batman.” He decided to take on three tricksters in his show—a Tom Sawyer spin off, a German trickster tale, and a retelling of the Emperor’s new clothes.

The artists who will perform for the Simon JCC’s Children’s Culture Arts series event—three vocalists and one pianist—are from across the country and were chosen from hundreds of applicants. Along with about 10 others, they perform as chorus members and understudies in Virginia Opera’s productions.

Soprano Danielle Messina, the understudy for Virginia Opera’s Romeo and Juliet later this season, says the performer’s goal s are simply to make music lovers out of the audience. “If we can open up their creative side and expose young children to the world of Opera, then we consider ourselves to be successful.”

The world of opera is changing, says Messina. Now there are venues such as IMAX theaters for watching opera, where people can casually view it as one would a movie.

These stars think casual opera is great, and that it is the way of the future. “Just like hip hop or rap has become part of the young culture, Opera should be that way too,” says Arthur Bosarge, pianist.

His cast mates agree that it doesn’t have to be a three-hour long production requiring formal attire, and that performances can be more interactive.

“We know that kids today aren’t used to trained voices,” says Winters, “so we want this new exposure to be a memorable one.” For some, it will just be another performance they attend with their families. “For a few kids, they will be amazed, touched, and maybe a couple will even be inspired to be a part of the future of Opera.”

Tickets may be purchased at the JCC Customer Service Desk, by calling 321-2338. Adults (ages 11 and up): $8/$6 for members; Children (ages 10 and under) $6/$4 for members; Family ticket (Two adults, plus children): $27/$22 for members.

by Leslie Shroyer