Friday, January 27, 2012
Dallas Opera debuts kid-friendly show
It's clear that the opera wants to entice new audiences.
The Dallas Opera (TDO) is making big strides to attract people who have never seen an opera before. TDO announced Thursday that it will simulcast The Magic Flute in Cowboys Stadium -- the first time an opera will be shown in a sports complex in North Texas.
TDO is also trying to reach younger audiences with its upcoming shows of Doctor Miracle. Performed at Rosewood Center, home to the Dallas Children’s Theater, the performance is only one act, clocking in at less than an hour. With $5 tickets, organizers say the evening could cost a family less than an average trip to the movie theater.
Doctor Miracle, by composer Georges Bizet, is a whimsical comedy about a young man named Silvio who desires to marry his true love, the mayor’s daughter. However, the mayor has already promised her hand in marriage to someone else. Silvio disguises himself as both a salesman (Doctor Miracle) and a servant in order to be closer to his lover without her father’s knowledge. Through his trickery, he convinces the mayor to allow them to marry. The story is told through a combination of spoken dialogue and song with piano accompaniment.
Dallas Opera General Director and CEO Keith Cerny says it's suited for younger viewers with a limited attention span. It has been translated into English from French, making it easier for children to follow the storyline. It’s also a comedy with situational and verbal humor that translates to all ages.
“As a small example, there’s a quartet involving singing about this wonderful omelet they’re all going to enjoy. From a comic perspective, a 5-year-old can think it’s very funny to see someone singing in an opera format about an omelet. And really, someone at 75 years old can think it’s very funny to see that same scene,” said Cerny. “I think that’s part of the success of this particular opera.”
Cerny also hopes to capture future audiences. He believes that if people are exposed to the arts at a young age, they are more likely to become patrons later on in life.
“I think if you catch children young enough, they will all love what opera includes, which is great singing, drama, costumes, and sets. These are all things that appeal instinctively to young people,” said Cerny. “If they haven’t had that exposure, then when they get older, we find ourselves having to fight against some of the negative stereotypes – it’s too long, it’s too stuffy, it’s too boring, and it’s in a foreign language.”
Its performance at Rosewood Theater, home to the Dallas Children’s Theater, seemed like a good fit. "The Dallas Opera wanted to reach a family audience and of course that’s who we serve," said Nancy Schaeffer, education director at Dallas Children’s Theater.
The cast members in Doctor Miracle are all students in the vocal or opera programs at Southern Methodist University and the University of North Texas. These young, emerging artists could be another connection point for younger audience members. The performers will mingle in the lobby after each performance so kids can see the colorful costumes up close, ask questions, or get an autograph.
“The energy in the lobby is just that of fun and excitement,” said Schaeffer. “We feel like it’s a great way for families to be together.”
Performances of Doctor Miracle are January 27 and February 3.
Pegasus News Content partner - The Assignment Desk, DFW
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