One of my favorite things to do is go to the opera. I love everything about it – the music, the costumes, the dancers. I love being transported to another place and time.
My first opera was Don Giovanni which I attended when I was in college. We had a program at my university where we would pay only $15 to go to an opera at the Met in New York City. The actual seats cost over $100 , but they were highly subsidized through an arts program at the college that aimed to introduce the culturally unsavvy freshmen to the opera. I decided to take a chance and go, because at least I would get a trip to New York City. I chose Don Giovanni as the opera that I would attend because I knew the main gist of the plot in English; I figured I would be able to follow along even though I didn’t understand the words that were being sung.
That night, at 18 years of age, I fell in love with the opera. I wish that I had ben introduced to it sooner.
Now, that I am a mom with two kids of my own, I want to introduce them to the art form I love while they are still kids. I know you are probably thinking that opera isn’t for kids. While I wouldn’t take them to a 3 hour, 3-part opera right out of the gate, there are definitely family-friendly operas that they can attend. One such opera is The Secret River.
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The Plot of The Secret River
The Secret River, based on the book of the same name by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, is a brand-new opera that has its world premier at the Orlando Opera this upcoming weekend. The Secret River is about a young girl named Calpurnia that is living through the Great Depression right here in Central Florida. Her father is a fisherman, but the fish aren’t biting leaving her family, and many other families, in her village living under straitened circumstances. Calpurnia takes it upon herself to help them. She travels into the forest to find the wise woman, who tells her of a secret river teeming with fish. Calpurnia goes on a quest to find the secret river and bring back food to feed her village.
Why this Opera is Great for Kids
At its core, the opera is about a young girl who sees a problem and tries to solve it. She shows bravery and determination in the face of hardship. I believe that kids will be able to relate to Calpurnia on some level, whether it is her love of books, her love of writing, her selflessness or her bravery.
A fun component of this opera are the puppets, created by MicheLee Puppets, that are used to represent all the animals. There is a stick dog, a brown bear, a fish, an owl and a blue heron.
The opera also features the youth chorus of the Orlando Opera.
When and Where is the Opera Taking Place
Dates: December 17 to 19
Location: Dr. Phillips Center, Alexis and Jim Pugh Theater, 445 South Magnolia Ave., Orlando, FL 32801
Ticket prices for The Secret River range from $69 to $89.