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Opera on KQED and in the Classroom

| August 29, 2011 | 4 Comments
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Celebrate the Opera this September! KQED will air four performances by the San Francisco Opera, beginning with Puccini’s La Bohème on September 1 at 8pm. Visit our program page for more details and air dates.

19th Century opera composer Richard Wagner described opera as “Gesamtkunstwerk,” or “total artwork,” in which music is combined with theater and visual arts to produce a complete multi-sensory experience. But few people realize that even a great master like Wagner required assistance from stage directors, conductors, costume and set designers, choreographers, technicians, singers, musicians, dancers and actors to create his “Gesamtkunstwerk.” In short, artists and artisans from several different disciplines must effectively collaborate in order to create a great operatic work.

Studying opera, both contemporary and historical, Eastern and Western, will give your students a better understanding of how collaboration is integral to the creation of this rich form of performing arts. The SF Opera’s YouTube channel provides countless options for media introductions to the organizations, including previews of Tosca and La Bohème, and interviews with opera staff including directors and the wig and make-up shop masters.

The San Francisco Opera offers resources for educators including professional development, curriculum guides, and DVDs for your classroom such as a video production of the student-friendly opera, The Magic Flute, which is a highly accessible performance for younger students. If you are a Bay Area educator, please contact the San Francisco Opera at education@sfopera.com to obtain a free copy of the Magic Flute DVD.

Older students can compare San Francisco Opera’s more traditional productions with one of its most recent, The Bonesetter’s Daughter, based on the novel by Amy Tan. KQED produced a documentary about the making of the opera, which entailed years of research including trips to China to discover cultural music and art forms. Watch the Spark video about the making of The Bonesetter’s Daughter on our website, and discover related web extras on YouTube such as a interviews with Chinese Circus Art performers.

The Spark video about Amy Tan’s opera is available for streaming online, and will also air on KQED 9 and KQED Life August 31-September 4. Check the Spark schedule for air dates and times.

If you want to explore circus arts as an offshoot of your operatic lessons and activities, check out Spark’s video and educator guide about Lu Yi’s Circus Center in San Francisco.

Leave a comment below and let us know how you and your students engage with opera and other forms of performing arts. And remember to catch four exemplary San Francisco Opera performances from the comfort of your own living room this September on KQED 9. Don’t forget your opera glasses!

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Category: Arts

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About the Author ()

Kristin Farr produces arts videos for KQED and writes monthly features for Juxtapoz magazine. She lives in the East Bay, and her favorite color is all of them.
  • Patrick Galleguillos

    I integrated opera stage design with History in my 6th grade classroom and received some outstanding results. We were studying ancient Egypt and had previously written as a class a play about the Hall Of Judgement. My students, which were urban Hispanic kids and never exposed to Operas, watched “Aida” quietly and enthusiastically with the main objective being to design a stage set for one of the opera’s scenes.

    I remember one student that included hieroglyphics over the proscenium which stated Aida loves Radames”! I was blown away!! Another of my students had the vision for his stage w that was worthy of SF Opera! It was boldly simplistic with the main element centered in the stage. That main element was the ankh glyph. I was very impressed with my students’ efforts, but the administration wasn’t as impressed asking me what was the measurable outcome of this lesson. Well, psychic income isn’t measurable like a test and yet my students came away intrigued with opera. When given a chance to attend a live rehearsal of “Madama Butterfly” they all voted to go. What was the scene most remembered by the students? Well…the suicide scene at the end. They were kids after all! I loved them.
    Patrick Galleguillos
    typo156@yahoo.com

    • http://www.sfopera.com Lori Vobejda

      Hello Patrick!
      We are so excited here at SF Opera to hear how engaged your class was in its design work and viewing of Aida and Madame Butterfly! If you ever need to supply valid curriculum connections to administrators or parents, you can cite the following in relation to the work you did:
      For the stage design work, specifically perspective in set design: CA VA 1.4 and 2.4 for 6th grade. By viewing Aida and for the work with hierglyphs, you met several items in the CA History and Geography 6th grade 6.2 Standard. Often the viewing and discussion of a work of performing art can meet several VAPA standards, such as 6th Grade Music 4.1 and 4.2.
      I hope you will continue your work using opera to connect to your other curricula and to expand the experience and critical thinking skills of your students!
      Lori Vobejda
      Curriculum and Educator Adviser, Education Dept., SF Opera

  • Patrick Galleguillos

    I integrated opera stage design with History in my 6th grade classroom and received some outstanding results. We were studying ancient Egypt and had previously written as a class a play about the Hall Of Judgement. My students, which were urban Hispanic kids and never exposed to Operas, watched “Aida” quietly and enthusiastically with the main objective being to design a stage set for one of the opera’s scenes.

    I remember one student that included hieroglyphics over the proscenium which stated Aida loves Radames”! I was blown away!! Another of my students had the vision for his stage w that was worthy of SF Opera! It was boldly simplistic with the main element centered in the stage. That main element was the ankh glyph. I was very impressed with my students’ efforts, but the administration wasn’t as impressed asking me what was the measurable outcome of this lesson. Well, psychic income isn’t measurable like a test and yet my students came away intrigued with opera. When given a chance to attend a live rehearsal of “Madama Butterfly” they all voted to go. What was the scene most remembered by the students? Well…the suicide scene at the end. They were kids after all! I loved them.
    Patrick Galleguillos
    typo156@yahoo.com

    • http://www.sfopera.com Lori Vobejda

      Hello Patrick!
      We are so excited here at SF Opera to hear how engaged your class was in its design work and viewing of Aida and Madame Butterfly! If you ever need to supply valid curriculum connections to administrators or parents, you can cite the following in relation to the work you did:
      For the stage design work, specifically perspective in set design: CA VA 1.4 and 2.4 for 6th grade. By viewing Aida and for the work with hierglyphs, you met several items in the CA History and Geography 6th grade 6.2 Standard. Often the viewing and discussion of a work of performing art can meet several VAPA standards, such as 6th Grade Music 4.1 and 4.2.
      I hope you will continue your work using opera to connect to your other curricula and to expand the experience and critical thinking skills of your students!
      Lori Vobejda
      Curriculum and Educator Adviser, Education Dept., SF Opera