Opera: “Ooh it’s not for me”

April 9, 2017 — 91 Comments

I read that Kasper Holten the Danish Director of Opera at the Royal Opera House, who left Covent Garden, London last month, claimed that the British are prejudiced against opera, perceiving it as elitist and not for them.  The new Director Oliver Mears agrees that the perception exists.  So how does my generation change and challenge this?

Lots of people I went to school and college with would never think to go to an opera, the State schools that my family attended never arranged trips to see an opera although there were trips to watch drama, dance performances, and musical theatre. It’s as though the State schools are keeping this perception going and not trying to make high art accessible to a wider audience if only to make a once in five year visit to the dress rehearsal of an opera performance so that each child has the opportunity to attend once in Primary school and once in Secondary education.

Although I’ve never been invited back to my High School to discuss training in a conservatoire, perform or undertake a demonstration with the music students I would be happy to,  the classical singing teacher that taught me at the school is no longer available to the students. Jayne led to several people in her short time teaching extra-curricular singing at the school to undertake classical training, and several of her students are now either working in the crossover industry or undertaking training at prestigious Conservatoires.  If she gave just ten of us this transformative experience that opened our minds and expanded our knowledge, then that’s a good thing, isn’t it?  Together we are all introducing new families to classical music, people whom prior to our involvement may have had no knowledge of this beautiful music other than the occasional advertisement on the TV, or when they are used in a film score they like.

Everyone talks about wanting social mobility for all, the chance to progress on merit and talent yet so many doors are kept firmly closed that I feel need to be opened.  Last summer in Scotland, Scottish Opera put on ‘The Little White Town of Never Weary’ for primary school children on a tour of Scotland, I can’t tell you how much it meant to me to see the children’s excitement and the smiles on their faces as they interacted with the performers. The Scottish Opera Education team also regularly put on Tours throughout Scotland, bringing pop-up operas to even the most remote areas, they are getting this right.  I’m excited to be part of a creative team on a new project with them again this summer.

In England, we read that music lessons are being cut out of the school curriculum in too many State schools thanks to the new requirements and testing to the EBacc formula that the schools are judged against, there was a controversial piece that I read, written by Charlotte C Gill in the Guardian “Music education is now only for the white and the wealthy”

I saw this at my own High School, they had too few students wanting to take A level Music at the start of my sixth form preferring to take the easier BTEC Music which wouldn’t have given me the skills I required for my next step of training and would have ended my progression were it not for the Head of Music and Music teacher agreeing to allow me to undertake it by self-study within the BTEC class with some extra support from Mr. Leigh. However, I found the breadth of the course really challenging to do on my own and I was so lucky to come into contact with a music teacher outside of school, Suzanne Harvey, a graduate of the Birmingham Conservatoire, who lived close to me and helped me so much.  With her help, I improved my understanding and appreciation of music plus the theory which gave me the foundation I needed to move on to a conservatoire. So, I don’t agree with the premise that the teaching of music should be dumbed down and made easier in every instance.

I would be interested to hear how the teaching of music is organised in different countries and if it encourages children to explore classical music and have a more open mind towards the beauty of opera and classical music.

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It was great to catch up with one of my friends today, Katie Oswell, from my time at the RCS, Glasgow. We had a lovely afternoon together and I enjoyed finding out about what she has been up to since I finished at the RCS last summer.

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Katie Oswell and Me

91 responses to Opera: “Ooh it’s not for me”

  1. 

    It’s not just in Britain; we face the same challenges in the U.S. Still, I can cite one small high school of 60 or so students that introduced opera as an elective, and half of the school signed up and, five months or so later, performed the first act of “Die Fledermaus” in English. It was great fun.

    • 

      Wow, that’s so good to hear, I’d love to know if that was lead by one enthusiastic teacher and if so kudos to them.

      We don’t get much opportunity to take electives in the UK that I know of, but that could be a solution and is good to hear about thanks for sharing.

      Best wishes
      Charlotte

      • 

        Yes, it was one enthusiastic teacher. And I should have added that none of those students had ever seen or listened to an opera before.
        While I’m thinking about this and the potential appeal of opera (and other fine arts), may we ask: What could be more Goth than opera?

  2. 

    I agree wholeheartedly with your comments. I am trying to get David to come with me to see an Opera (even a ballet). He’s not been to either before and I would like him to just try it once. 🙂

    • 

      My Dad isn’t much of a ballet fan but he likes watching Matthew Bourne dances his favourite was Sleeping Beauty if you see this advertised it’s a more contemporary modern ballet style.

      You could take a look at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester their student performances or opera scenes are a good introduction and aren’t too long in length, or if you want to see the very top performers in the industry you can see these at the Cinema for a low cost with some popcorn and cola, Carmen is a good starter, strong characters, music he may know, dancing.

      Best wishes
      Charlotte

  3. 

    You are talking about all the same issues we have been facing here in the States for some time: cutting of music and fine arts in the schools, perceptions of eliticism, and so forth. We are lucky to have robust private Suzuki programs in many communities for those who can afford them, children’s theater programs and dance schools. It’s good that you see the problem and are willing to do something about it. Keep up the good work! It sounds like you have been very lucky in your own path in music, and there is no greater contribution you can make than to pay that forward. Good on ya, Charlotte!

    • 

      Thank you very much Peter, sometimes fate has stepped in at just the right moment for me, Jan Bartai at Stagecoach advising us to try to get some extra singing lessons if we could and helping me out in all aspects of music, then a chance meeting with Jayne Wilson a new classical singing teacher at High School, low cost instrument lessons with Music for Life on piano at school, Mr Leigh at High School playing piano for me, Stephen Robertson at the RCS giving me a chance and all the opportunities of Conservatoire life, Nick Sears at the RCM letting me experience the musical life in London.

      Our High School had an excellent performing arts department with several stars of Music theatre such as Danielle Hope who won the BBC Search for Dorothy in Over the Rainbow with Andrew Lloyd Webber, Charlotte Wakefield and Faye Brookes just three examples from the time I was at school. Plus dancers that have gone on to work with major dance companies. I just hope these programs don’t have any funding cuts.

      Best wishes
      Charlotte

  4. 
    Peter Alexander April 9, 2017 at 8:21 pm

    Let me add that I have recently spoken to many artists here who have a mission to open the door to classical music for people who might not otherwise experience it.

  5. 

    Well, I would not worry about the elite problems Charlotte, just keep doing your best and you will pass all the test. Every country has this problem and it is up to the individual to overcome this condition. I have confidence that you will do well and set a good example for your generation to follow.

    • 

      I’ve not followed a perfect traditional path but I’ve met amazingly supportive people who have brought me to this point and allowed me to do what I love. Thank you for your confidence it’s a boost 😊.
      Best wishes
      Charlotte

  6. 

    Charlotte, i cannot believe it’s nearly 12 months since you finished studying at the rcs .
    So glad you are enjoying your time in London.
    Keep up the good work , and have a brilliant summer.well done.xx

  7. 

    It’s the same in France – It all depends on the cities and professors of French who are the only organizers of school trips to the Opera. Otherwise, there must be someone in the family or friends who is and trasmette his pation to the children ….
    But, things change a bit, there is more and more opera to the Tv, or film with Lyric singers who are heroes of adventures ….

    But, I think, more people will discover you, hear you and more will want to go to lyrical singing, really, I think.

    Very good week to You

  8. 

    Peter is right. In my view unless parents expose their children to different types of music and the arts, they are not going to experience them. School programs these days are all about accountability for core curriculum No longer time or funds for enrichment. That is why I took my children to the theater and the opera and paid for private music lessons,
    Depends on what is important to you. So if it is important to them, parents have to lobby school boards and get them to see the value in the arts.

    • 

      I’m very fortunate that my parents were so supportive to help with outside of school lessons, I think that without this support it would be so much harder. I’ve met many students whose parents have sacrificed so much to provide lessons and instruments. Finding choirs to be a part of can help with sight singing and notation, and a good many music teachers go out of their way to provide free or low cost options.
      All my best wishes
      Charlotte

  9. 

    i think it’s even worse on this side of the pond. “High art” is seen as a bad thing. Kids are not exposed to it. I think you’re right, kids need to have at least one good experience with opera and with classical music. There needs to be teachers who can recognize talent and try to get those kids to challenge themselves.

    My mom has a good friend (H. Leslie Adams) who composed at least one opera (Blake). I think he saw an opera as a child and was very taken in and knew he had to do that.

    • 

      I do understand the pressure on schools and their budgets, it’s amazing how just one door being opened can give someone a lifetime passion for something.
      Best wishes
      Charlotte

  10. 

    I’m Of A Certain Age and don’t have any children, so I can only say how I developed my interest in classical music.

    When I went up to senior school at age 11, we had a very “modern” music master. His name was Brian Large. He left after two years, but in that time he did a vast amount within my school to expose children to classical music; and to some extent, his work was carried on by his successors, so we had trips out – from Derbyshire over to Manchester, where the Hallé Orchestra were and are based – to attend concerts regularly. Of course, back in those days, there were fewer opportunities to hear live classical music, let alone opera, in the ‘provinces’, though in my final year the school engaged in “Project Week”, getting us to do something worthwhile with the last week of the year instead of just bringing in games, and so in my last week of school I did get to go down to London to see Britten’s ‘Peter Grimes’ at Covent Garden.

    The thing is this: it was said that Brian Large left teaching to go and make opera films for the BBC. Now, I don’t know if this was true, but there is/was an opera film director called Brian Large who worked with the BBC and later produced music tv broadcasts for ÖRF in Austria (his name was on the credits for the Vienna New Years’ Day Concerts for many years) and also with the Stuttgart State Opera. I can’t find any reference in his online bios to his having spent time out teaching, and the only photograph I can find of him online is of him recently rather than in the late 1960s, so I have no idea whether this is the same person. But I hope it is, because the teaching he gave me opened up a world of music that I might not have had otherwise. I suppose that attitude is consistent with making tv broadcasts of opera to reach a wider audience.

    Sadly, this sort of thing is now seen as too elitist even for BBC4 – alone alone BBC2, where there used to be opera broadcasts perhaps once or twice a year. (I know there’s Sky Arts, but for a number of reasons Sky is something I will not have in the house.)

    I’ve tried contacting Mr Large, in case he is the same Brian Large as was my teacher, but like so many other e-mails I’ve shot off into the ether, I’ve never had a reply. But I can hope…

    • 

      Oh I hope you discover if this is the same man. What a wonderful message. To encourage people with your enthusiasm and joy of your art is a fabulous thing and I’m sure he’d love to know he passed on his enjoyment in music to you. Thank you.
      All my best wishes
      Charlotte

  11. 

    I realize it’s not the same but I found that exposing people to Gilbert and Sullivan, lead them to wishing to explore more traditional opera.

    • 

      Gilbert and Sullivan is so important. It’s a form of English opera! It’s part of our musical heritage. You are absolutely correct. The ENO (English National Opera) have started doing productions and so has Scottish Opera. 😊.
      Best wishes
      Charlotte

  12. 

    Just ate lunch today next to Joyce Di-Denato in Strasbourg by happenstance. Had quite an interesting conversation which she initiated. She is a very interesting and humble person, and so was the Argentine ballet dancer she was with. It was fun to talk with them. My husband basically was overwhelmed in awe of her when she told him who she was.
    He tends to break down and cry with good arias.
    I told Joyce & the ballet dancer, “he has taken me to two complete ring cycles, one in Byreuth.”
    I did so appreciate their apologies. 🙂
    Turned out she grew up where my husband did.
    Do you think it is a small world?

    • 

      How exciting you met Joyce DiDonato. She is a great advocate within conservatoire level studying. It’s important that people are giving back and I love reading Joyce’s twitter and blog she is very warm and encouraging when she writes and during her interviews. Sounds like you’re having a fantastic time 😊.
      All my best wishes
      Charlotte

  13. 

    I agree with all that has been said, but another element which is exacerbating the lack of taking serious music seriously is the repetitive junk (sorry, to the fans of it, but it is!) churned out on radio and TV daily. Force-fed with little other than rhythm and beat, kids of today tend to have their ability to sense and enjoy any nuances in music destroyed utterly. Where tuition is supplied, it is looked upon as a hardship and dodged or skimped.

    • 

      You are right it takes time to learn to love classical music especially if you are used to music that uses the same harmonic progressions.

      I had to really learn how to sit in a symphony and enjoy the music as it was so foreign to me when I began.
      Best wishes
      Charlotte

    • 

      So true. I started out liking Wagner and Mahler and Shostakovich. It took me possibly ten years to start getting interested in chamber music (the Shostakovich and late Beethoven quartets did it for me, the latter with another BBC tv programme analysing them in detail – again, now much too ‘niche’ tv for even our national broadcaster); then another fifteen years to appreciate Mozart and Haydn as more than just purveyors of ‘tunes’. I’ve been listening to classical music for possibly 45 years, and I’ve still to come to terms with the Second Viennese School!

      It is all about learning a new language. my partner has just started getting interested in dance, and so that’s another new artistic language I’m having to learn. At least it keeps my brain active. (As if having a new job isn’t enough…)

      • 

        It is strange the sometimes opposite directions in which different people expand their musical appreciation. Beethoven- and Bach-mad when young, I regarded Mozart and his ilk as trite. Then I went backwards, as it were, to seeing the depth in such music – as well as the old Italian masters. Currently, I am sold on Elgar.

  14. 

    That is a little sad to hear that there is still such perception. I am having impression UK has a long progress in this direction than others.

    • 

      I must write to music friends I have in and from Germany to see how their music lessons are organised and how they feel their opera scene is thriving all over the Country. It was interesting to see in Italy Opera being performed in the streets in the evening and classical concerts being organised informally.
      Best wishes
      Charlotte

  15. 

    Music and the teaching of music ought to be the basis of any education. Look no further than Finland where music and the teaching of it is of most importance.
    You cannot expect lives to flourish without the appreciation of all forms of music including opera.

    • 

      How interesting about Finland. I’d love to do some research into that. I’ve read that they are really happy people there. A friend did her Erasmus training there. I’d love to visit and discover more.
      Best wishes
      Charlotte

  16. 

    Like England, the United States does not see arts education as a force for good. There is little effort to invest in the future here in education or other things that bring a quality of life to the citizens. It’s all about the money. And our societies are so much the less for it.

    • 

      The thing about music education is that if we give confidence to people through music it can open opportunities to communities.

      For example if people believe they can sing they can join a choir, amateur dramatics, improv group, or start a little band or orchestra. It brings people together and may stop some of this loneliness and isolation we read about now.

      Best wishes
      Charlotte

  17. 

    Not having kids, I’m not sure how the programs are now, although I suspect there are more cuts coming with the current government being what it is. Our neighborhood does have several private arts-based schools, however, so that gives me hope.

    I was lucky to grow up with a father who loved music (although my mother was deaf) and I currently listen to hours of classical daily–it’s as important as my tea for my art and happiness.

    I did also have an appreciation class in high school my final year. The teacher drilled us to remember a piece and composer within the first thirty seconds or so. I still do that today when I listen.

    We have been attending more live performances and we got to see opera singers sing selections a few weeks ago. I thought of you, of course, when they did “La ci darem la mano” from Don Giovanni. 🙂 We’re lucky to have access to operas and symphonies here in Phoenix and I really hope local kids to experience them.

    Oh, this was the soprano we saw. She teaches! https://herbergerinstitute.asu.edu/content/carole-fitzpatrick

    • 

      That’s great Karen. It’s so important that we know what makes us happy and how we can find enjoyment. I’m so pleased music is a part of that for you. Thank you for the link 😊, say Hi to David for us.
      Best wishes
      Charlotte

  18. 

    Never give up on your dreams for yourself…or for what opera can do to transform the social order!
    Believe, believe, believe.

  19. 

    It’s been over twenty years since I graduated high school. Never liked it. As an African-American student, I was seen as tall and lean. I was supposed to be a basketball player, though I had little interest in it. I was seen as trying to be ‘white’ because I didn’t care much for rap or hip hop because of the content (lyrics). I dressed differently. Quiet. Didn’t have many friends. I loved to play football (wide-receiver) but I was too small, ran too slowly to make it. I knew I liked fine art, visiting galleries, but I was terrible in Painting class. So, when I graduated, I had no sense of direction. I began to sign up for the Military, but quickly got out of it wanting to direct my own life. Plus, I didn’t like the idea of being shot at or having to shoot someone. 😦 It took years of bouncing from job to job to find where I fit. But there was no place for me. I decided to pave my own road and figure out where I wanted to go. Over a decade went by before I went to an art school and that place wasn’t great. 😦 Still, my English professor was different. He was… Welsh? Challenged me in Reading & Writing. Helped me format my first adapted screenplay. That’s when I realized I was a storyteller (and a slow reader). After our Final Exam, he served the students boysenberry jam and crumpets. Never had either before, but boysenberry jam became my favorite. From that point, I realized I wasted money on the wrong Degree/Major at the wrong school. smh. Yet, it was a start. Anyway, we need more teachers and parents who have a broader view of the world. Otherwise, how can we learn from each other globally?

    • 

      That’s interesting about learning globally. I’m happy you found your own road.
      I don’t think I’ve tried boysenberry jam but I do visit Wales a lot so I’ll look out for it now.
      As a music major I meet a lot of people who don’t take the same path and we are reminded of this continually by our teachers. At first I thought it was their cover for failure but sometimes we don’t have to meet the deadlines of school for what we will be great at for our own lives.
      I watched a great video yesterday of Stephen Spielberg who said dreams creep up on us like a whisper: Listen for the Whisper. I think you’d enjoy it.
      Best wishes
      Charlotte

    • 

      Congratulations, Eric, on an interesting journey! Education, even in the “wrong” subject, is never wasted. There are no accidents. Each of our experiences shapes us in ways we’re not aware of. Our taste for boysenberries is shaped by our persimmon jelly moments.

  20. 

    I can’t really add anything to what others have said, but I have observed one interesting thing with the music I listen to. It seems like more and more of the groups I listen to (when I get enough time to research them anyway) come from musical family’s and learned from their parents and other relatives.
    Just something I thought was interesting, hope you don’t mind me mentioning it.

  21. 

    Here’s an article if you’re interested in the Australian take on the Gill article:

    http://www.limelightmagazine.com.au/news/carl-vine-joins-australian-educators-defending-musical-notation

    • 

      Very interesting thank you Matt. To learn new music from a score by yourself and understand the composers intention is so important to me, I also feel to have any hope of good composition it is critical to have notation, especially if it’s not just for a solo project.

      It must be wonderful for the journalist to provoke such a good debate, in her own way she has freed up discussion and got more people talking about it which is her job.

      I’ve heard people talk about subjects they studied at school from Latin to Labanotation which have been removed from the curricular, I hope musical notation doesn’t go the same way.

      Best wishes
      Charlotte

  22. 

    Making performances more affordable will make it less elitist, I believe more people would go out to see these if this happened. I agree there should be a wider distribution of opera programmes on TV and radio which would give the public a better and bigger access to this world. X

    • 

      I think The Lowry does packages Gill and I don’t think it’s anymore expensive than the music theatre shows like Les Mis you went to see, let me know if you check it out. Opera North also does low cost intro to opera tickets for £10. 👍🏻 perhaps we could go see one together 😊.
      Best wishes
      Charlotte

  23. 

    It’s a shame to think a student could lose out on a potential career due to the structuring of a syllabus. The arts in general tend to get tossed in order to facilitate other subjects, I see it here too in Ireland. As for your inspiring the next generation… How about speaking with your past school and organising a trip there to perform and talk about your music and enlighten some young minds?

    I was asked back to my old school a few years ago when my poetry book was published and must admit it was a hugely rewarding experience. I used the time to give a brief history as to how I got there that day, reminding the students I was once sitting where they were, then I spoke about publishing and read from my book and then told them life doesn’t always go the way we plan and struggles and challenges will crop up but not to be afraid of the struggles, use them. There are so many life lessons within the arts, it’s not an easy path but seeing someone take that path, well it just might nudge an extra body down it with you!

    • 

      Hi Marie, I wrote an email and a letter yesterday after I wrote this blog post, one to Suzanne Harvey to say hi and let her know what I’m up to because I realised I hadn’t kept in touch and the other to Mr Leigh at school 😊 I just need to remember to buy a stamp and post it! I don’t remember any talks at school whilst I was there from people in any training to discuss routes after school but I’ve heard that other schools do this and think it’s a good idea.
      Best wishes
      Charlotte

      • 

        Ooo Charlotte, that’s great news! When I was in school (an all girls public school) we had woman come and speak to us every International Womens day. They ranged from business women to politicians, and I loved those days in school. One lady in particular stood out and her words echoed with me through my entire life. If just one student hears one line of what you have to say, that’s the only ripple needed to extend the vibrations of the pond!

  24. 

    I agree that it is a pity public schools don’t offer more on classical music. After all, if they still take students to see Shakespeare, which is even older than most operas, we shouldn’t feel that classical music is so out of date! I plan on trying to get the music department at the secondary school where I used to work to bring student groups to see our Gilbert and Sullivan performances; who knows, it may be the first step on the road towards grand opera for some of them, at least!

    Best regards,

    Cate

    • 

      That’s a really good idea to involve the music department where you used to work Cate. I’m not often at my parents home just lately but I have started to get some ideas 💡 together of making contact with maybe hard to reach groups.
      Best wishes
      Charlotte

  25. 

    We old folks love opera.

  26. 

    A fascinating topic. When I was 9 (in “5th grade”), we were taken to see Madame Butterfly (English version) in downtown Los Angeles. “Covent Garden” became part of our vocabulary, along with G&S, and a variety of British ditties involving such things as foggy, foggy dew, ‘eads tucked underneath arms, and the like. My father kept the car radio tuned to KFAC (now KUSC), the only all-classical LA station. A friend of mine recently founded the small Los Angeles Met company. I attend performances surprisingly seldom, now, but I’ve written a song with help from a musical friend. Reading the comments above, I feel fortunate to have been exposed to music early and often.

    • 

      My early music involved lots of musical theatre and pop songs with some Queen in the car thanks to Dad and Kate Bush thanks to Mum. You were lucky getting early exposure 😊.
      Best wishes
      Charlotte

  27. 

    Some of my favorite times was working opera. They say opera is an acquired taste but here in the USA children aren’t given much of a chance to acquire the taste. And now with the new ‘regime’ in power, I am afraid that all of the Arts will be hard to find in schools.
    P.S. It was so good you found a way and people along the way to recognize your talent and encourage it.
    As Thomas Grey laments: Full many of flower is born to blush unseen and waste it’s sweet breath upon the desert air.
    Keep singing and encourage others to sing and/or appreciate your class of music.

    • 

      The sets in opera are often fabulous, elaborate affairs especially in the bigger houses, although even in the Conservatoires the sets are amazing, one of my best friends Rob was taught stage carpentry in the Conservatoire working on music theatre and opera sets, he’s now working full time in a theatre.
      Best wishes
      Charlotte

  28. 

    This is a real and serious problem. When I was in my twenties we could go to the ROH (lower slips) for £5 less than a cinema ticket. For adults opera is an acquired taste, but for small children who are open to novel experiences, it can open worlds. The reduction of music funding in schools is so short-sighted. You are right, Scotland is doing well, they even took up a version of La Systema. I did get most of my reading group addicted to opera, by showing DVDs of (the most inspiring and sexy singers in) operas like Traviata. You know what mattered most? The subtitles, they loved to know exactly what was going on, and the drama of it. They came to love the music later.

    • 

      I see what you mean about the subtitles some of the stories are really interesting but sometimes the composers can extend the moments within the story which sometimes make them harder to enjoy because of the time span. How fabulous that you involved your friends from your book club, opera is lucky to have advocates like you Hilary.
      Best wishes
      Charlotte

  29. 

    we new folks seem to find opera a bit boring, though only fee that really understand music will appreciate opera

    • 

      In my opinion opera should be immersive, what do you find boring? It’s important for me as an artist to know. Sometimes when I was first at opera I could find the overture boring because I was used to visual spectacles of dance and musical theatre but now I think of the overture as the best hits of the opera and what melodies to look for during the show.
      Thanks for your message I hope I can help change your mind.
      Best wishes
      Charlotte

  30. 

    I’m not sure that I can add much more to this discussion. I was fortunate to be able to take O’ Level and A’ Level music at school and both in primary school and secondary school I had enthusiastic teachers who were willing to spend time and energy in encouraging us to take part in all sorts of musical activities. I remember a trip to the Wigmore Hall while I was still in primary school and I went to see Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream when I was taking my A’ Level music. My daughters however, had no encouragement at school to listen to or go to see opera or any other classical music concert. I have tried to encourage a love for classical music in both my daughters one of whom does love opera. Provincial theatres do a good job in providing affordable performances with sur-titles and it is no longer expected that audiences dress up to go to the ballet or opera as in my youth.

    • 

      Thanks Clare, I quite like that some people do dress up and make an event of the evening out but alongside them people casually dressed can equally fit in and enjoy the show now.
      That’s great that you have fond memories from your school days and your children are lucky they have you to fill in the gaps.
      Best wishes
      Charlotte

  31. 

    Oh the Prejudices and stereotypes. I have been able to watch Carmen at the Teatro Colon, Buenos Aires and, I can tell it was one of my best experiences as an espectactor. Also went to see Ballet many times, in different locations. Art and music are so important, one would ask why anyone would want to drop them off from the School Plans. Sigh… I have watched a documentary “Where to invade next?”. It talked about this issue, in USA, and also approached the standard exams as evaluation systems, as well as the fact that University is not free in that (and many other countries)… I think a change of perspective is neccesary when it comes to these factors. It is if we want our new generations to be better as human beings and not just as consumers.
    Great post, my friend. Love & best wishes to you! 😀

    • 

      Is Higher education still free where you live?
      Do the High Schools age 11-18 years age still have music lessons including access to instruments free and notation?
      The more we communicate globally the more we can understand each other and our cultures, I love that we can discuss this and I can discover more from different friends.
      Best wishes 💕
      Charlotte

  32. 

    What a commendable thing to do, Charlotte, encouraging schools to introduce opera to the young. It is never too young to appreciate and enjoy the beauty of an opera. Wishing you all the best in your endeavors!
    Friday I am going to see my grandson perform in an opera at his college, UNH, University of New Hampshire in Durham, New Hampshire, USA. I can’t wait to see him. He is a talented singer, able to sing all parts and genres of music. I’m a proud Grammy. I hope I will be able to share a little of the performance with you sometime. 🤗❤️

    • 

      What opera are they doing Janice? It’s lovely you can enjoy listening as a family. The great thing about operas in school is the chorus can teach so much and often have a large unrestricted cast of many voice types. Toi toi toi to your Grandson.
      Best wishes
      Charlotte

      • 

        We went to see my grandson in the play, The Tender Land, by Aaron Copelan on Friday night. He was amazing! My son taped a little of Dan’s solo. If I can I will post it on my FB page.Thank you for your kind support.❤️

  33. 

    Unfortunately from a very young age a child seems pigeon holed while in American schools. This is from personal experience but not meant totally negative. Some things just are as they always have been! I have three teens, two that will finish next month, and I think most is up to the parent for outside activities from sports to music and art through private lessons. I had always hoped for more time for these activities, more than I hoped I wrote that we needed these. Back in their fourth grade I had them enter the talent show so they could get a taste of performing on stage, though they had no recognizable talent, it was for fun. A friend and her recited two beautiful poems and they received a standing ovation. Most performers were singers or dancers. The next year the music teacher had others recite poems. At that young an age I love to see kids get to try their hand as its more fun to participate! Opera, now there’s a concept. Like it Charlotte.

    • 

      Learning how to recite a poem well is a great skill to have in all walks of life, my older brother did drama too and he often has to do public speaking and presentations in his working life as an actuary so these skills really do cross over. Plus having the confidence to get up there is really important.
      You can’t choose your parents and some children do need the schools more than others just to give a taste of everything out these, I know adults that were taught how to sing in choirs because they couldn’t afford lessons outside of school and I have friends that taught themselves guitar and piano.
      Best wishes and happy Easter 🐣
      Charlotte

  34. 

    When I was in grade school 55 years ago, we had classes in the morning–reading, writing, arithmetic, biology, etc–and we had arts in the afternoon–painting, drawing, band, orchestra, choir. We went to school from 8:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Sadly, arts are not in the schools anymore. They were the first things to be cut during budget problems. Children go to school from 9:00 to noon. If parents are rich enough, they can pay the school to babysit their children in the afternoon, called “after school enrichment programs.” That’s where the arts are now. I used to teach chess in after school enrichment programs. Nothing but a glorified baby sitter. I quit.

    • 

      Your school days sound super. The pressure on schools to do well now academically in Mathematics, English, Science and a Foreign Language are the key measures. Sadly they aren’t paying attention to the advantages that a serious arts education can bring to the core curriculum. I managed top grades in all these subjects whilst focusing on the arts. Thanks for your message.
      Best wishes,
      Charlotte

      • 

        I don’t know any school that requires a foreign language anymore. My high school did 44 years ago but they don’t now. I took two semesters of Spanish. Just didn’t understand that whole o/a thing. Had straight A’s throughout high school except for two lousy B’s. I guess you know what the B’s were in.

  35. 

    I should disclose that I started piano at the age of 2, violin at 6, and voice at 10. My mom was one of the accompanists for the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. Love classical music. Can’t stand theater and opera.

  36. 

    All I know for sure is that if you choose the right one as an introduction, you will be surprised at how receptive the young are. I speak from experience: we took my 24yr old son, who would sound out of tune in a football crowd, to Carmen a couple of years ago. In the interval, he was beaming – “This is really good, Dad! I didn’t know there was a plot!” You can’t fake that. Cost is an issue – but you can still go to an opera for less than the price of an average Premier League ticket. It’s often a question of priorities, of choice. At one point in that production, the girl he’d brought with her, who had also never been to an opera, said she’d been enjoying the music so much that for several minutes she dispensed with the surtitles.
    Just take them, show them: before long they will be hooked!

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