Review: “Hands-on-Opera Presents a Delightful Child’s Perspective of Life in the Mission” – Stephen Smoliar
“Ultimately, this is a tale about the positive value of a community in which the whole is as important as any of the parts; and, in our current climate of divisiveness, it is definitely a tale worth telling.”
“Children Take Center Stage in Xochitl and the Flowers” from San Francisco Classical Voice – Mark MacNamara
Paiement’s goal for young children is to genuinely engage with opera, “to make it part of their vocabulary. We want this to be seen not as something unusual or outside the curriculum. We believe that having children engage in this way may help them fall in love with the art form and also to help develop future audiences.”
“Of course we developed this a year ago, long before the election. But I believe art should not be a form of propaganda. It’s there to make people think and to make them reflect. It should be like a mirror. You look at yourself in the mirror and you can find yourselves beautiful or not as beautiful. It should be a means of reflection in a world where I don’t think we take enough time to do that. Which is why the arts are so important. And that’s why we chose this story not as part of some political agenda.” – Nicole Paiement
KDFC – Jeffrey Freymann’s State of the Arts – with Educational Programs Director, Roma Olvera
The chorus is made up of kids from Alvarado Elementary school. “Those 44 third graders that are on stage have been speaking Spanish since kindergarten,” Roma Olvera says. “And our conductor is bilingual as well, so they switch back and forth between Spanish and English the whole time. We look for a diverse population, because we want our opera company to look like our city, and our world looks. And Alvorado has that demographic. It’s also an immersion program, one of the oldest immersion programs in the city.” In the story, the young daughter Xochitl, (the Nahuat word for ‘flower’) sells flowers in the Mission as her father tries to find a place for them to live. The landlord of a building they want to move into doesn’t want them to move in, changing the neighborhood, until his heart is changed by Xochitl. “She looks at the backyard, and she says ‘Don Roberto, there are three things that a garden needs. It needs sunshine, and it needs birds, because birds come for a happy place to live, and it needs snails, because snails travel with their homes on their backs and look for new places to live. And your garden has all three, I know it’s going to work.’”
Scroll down and listen to the clip HERE
“Xochitl and the Flowers at Opera Parallèle draws third graders into the performance” from Mercury News – Georgia Rowe
Hands-on-Opera has been successful in developing operas that can be presented in a variety of educational settings. “They’re meant to be short, flexible, engaging pieces,” says composer Pratorius.
The kids get a firm foundation in opera – and over three productions, Pratorius has, too.
“It’s been amazing,” he says. “Parallèle has a complete commitment to new works. The collaborative process happens from the very beginning. There’s a constant dialogue between the composer and the production team. This team understands so much about how a piece is going to look and feel and move in real time.
Read the full Mercury News article and interview with composer Christopher Pratorius.