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Opera for young audiences: Inspiring the next generation of arts lovers

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The Atlanta Opera’s Studio Tour production of The Barber of Seville at Elm Street Elementary School in Rome, GA. Photo by McKenzie Todd.

By: Jessica Kiger, Audience Development & Education Manager, The Atlanta Opera
There’s nothing quite like the roar of thousands of cheering teenagers, but they weren’t at a Friday night football game – instead, it was a Friday afternoon at Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre, where 1,600 students attended the final dress rehearsal of The Atlanta Opera’s production of Bernstein’s West Side Story. A partnership with the Atlanta Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs’ Cultural Experience Project and the ArtsBridge Foundation, the field trip was free for the students, who jumped to their feet and gave a standing ovation as the cast took their bows. The singers felt like rock stars after the ovation and were blown away by the enthusiasm and energy from the students. It was an amazing way to start the Opera’s 2018-19 season.

The Atlanta Opera’s production of West Side Story at Cobb Energy Centre. Photo by Greg Mooney.

A core mission of The Atlanta Opera is to provide opportunities for students of all ages – we believe opera is for everyone and we are committed to ensuring that the art form is available to the widest possible cross-section of our community. Each year, our education programs serve more than 25,000 students in Metro-Atlanta and throughout the state of Georgia. Our programs seek to inspire creativity, stimulate critical conversations, promote an enduring appreciation of the arts, and create audiences for the future.
Founded in 1980, The Atlanta Opera Studio Tour is the company’s longest-running educational initiative. Over the past 39 years, approximately one million students throughout the state have been introduced to opera in their schools through the Studio Tour. Next week, our touring artists will finish 10 weeks on the road presenting a bilingual version of Rossini’s The Barber of Seville. Originally written for Portland Opera by stage director Kristine McIntyre, opera’s most famous barber, Figaro, plays the role of the translator as Rossini’s sparkling, witty score takes center stage. The 45-minute adaptation is performed in both Spanish and English and demonstrates the power of love to triumph over adversity of every kind. In total, this season’s Studio Tour will have 85 performances at 60 schools and 11 community venues and will reach more than 18,000 students.
As the school year comes to an end, we want to thank the incredible teachers, administrators, and students for everything they to do to keep music and the arts alive. We are proud to partner with you to bring opera into schools and communities across the state of Georgia.

The Atlanta Opera’s Studio Tour production of The Barber of Seville at Elm Street Elementary School in Rome, GA. Photo by McKenzie Todd.

The power of music is deeper than notes on a page. It inspires, it ignites the imagination, and it teaches lifelong lessons that go beyond academic outcomes, including social and emotional skill development and growth. When children are introduced to opera for the first time, they sit wide-eyed and in awe of the power of the human voice. They leave with an energized confidence and open to new ideas that help them to succeed in the classroom.
Through our educational programs, we hope to inspire the next generation of artists and audiences. We’d love for you to join us (bring the whole family!) as we close our season with performances of the Studio Tour of Rossini’s The Barber of Seville on May 18 and 19, 2019 at City Springs Performing Arts Center. More information and tickets available at https://www.atlantaopera.org/performance/the-barber-of-seville/.

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