Each year the Washington Opera presents “Opera Look-In,” at the Kennedy Center Opera House to educate children about opera. The program presents opera in a highly accessible manner, combining storytelling, brief scenes in costume, and selected arias (accompanied by the full Opera House Orchestra!) with behind-the-scenes explanations of the use of lighting, music, costumes, and props. School groups attend from all over the Washington, DC area, including homeschool groups—lucky us.
Last year the program revolved around the opera Carmen, and included an exhibition of costumes created by fashion design students at Duke Ellington School for the Arts. This year’s program featured Ellington School students supposedly lost in an opera house, encountering as if by accident scenes from The Barber of Seville, Madame Butterfly, Lucia di Lammermoor, The Magic Flute, and (big crowd-pleaser) Cosi Fan Tutte. It’s not easy to sketch in the dark, and by the end I gave up and settled back to enjoy the humorous last quintet.
To engage an auditorium packed with elementary school students is no easy task, and the kids were riveted. I wonder how many go home and ask their parents to rent Cosi Fan Tutte so they can see the rest of the story.