One of the most exciting additions to this season is the children’s opera Rabbit Tales, the Atlanta Opera’s first-ever commissioned opera. Rabbit Tales is based on the stories of Br’er Rabbit and will take children on a fun adventure through the hilarious antics of Br’er Rabbit and his friends, while introducing children to the musical genre of opera.
Rabbit Tales is a touring production of The Atlanta Opera Studio and will be traveling to elementary schools throughout Georgia. It will also have a public premiere on October 29th at The Wren’s Nest. You can read more about the project in our previous blog entry “I’ll tell you a rabbit story…”
For this week’s blog, we thought it would be fun to speak to the performers in Rabbit Tales and give you the inside scoop on why performing in a children’s opera is unique, challenging, and very rewarding.
Because Rabbit Tales is performed in a variety of spaces, such as small stages, libraries, and even school cafeterias, the cast is as compact as the traveling set! But make no mistake, the musicians in this show deliver anything but a small performance!
Playing the role of the “clever and mischievous” Br’er Rabbit is tenor Wesley Morgan. Wesley has worked with The Atlanta Opera many times, and is no stranger to children’s opera. His first children’s opera was The Baker of Seville three seasons ago.
Joining Br’er Rabbit is Sister Fox, sung by Elizabeth Claxton, who performed with the Atlanta Opera’s Studio Tour Production of The Pirates of Penzance.
The role of King Lion will be performed by baritone Wade Thomas. This will be his fifth production with The Atlanta Opera. Wade has not only participated in children’s opera here in Atlanta, but also with Opera Birmingham and Tri-Cities Opera in Binghamton, New York.
We will also be hearing from Rabbit Tales accompanist Catherine Schaefer, who is excited to be performing in her first opera written specifically for children.
Elizabeth Claxton- “With children, one does seem to have to be a bit more active. Also, the downsizing of a production can be challenging.”
Catherine Schaefer- “In mainstage productions, our job as pianists… is to provide music for rehearsals and… to play as part of the pit orchestra for performances. Children’s operas are usually written for piano accompaniment only [because] it’s not feasible for a large orchestra to travel around to elementary schools. [Also], the pianist must be able to see and communicate with the singers, since there is no conductor.”
2. Is this opera musically different from mainstage operas that you’ve performed in?
3. What do you like best about performing for children?
EC- “It is wonderful to see kids really get into the performances and ask questions. They seem to be very intrigued with the whole concept.”
WT- “I feel that children really appreciate our performances and are usually very enthusiastic audiences. It’s always fun to see them smile, and wave at you when the show is over, and tell you how much they liked the performance.”
CS- “My favorite part of playing for children’s opera is observing the children’s reactions to opera! Many of them have never heard an opera or an opera singer before, and the looks on their faces when someone starts singing high notes is always entertaining. Often they don’t quite know what to make of it, but they are usually pretty impressed. It’s a lot of fun to introduce kids to that world.”
After reading these cast interviews, it’s easy to see why The Atlanta Opera is excited to have Rabbit Tales as part of our 2011-2012 season. This show gives children the opportunity to become immersed in the world of opera in a fun, interactive, and unique way. Though it is a lot of hard work, you can see that the performers love what they are doing.
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