If the audience reaction at the premiere of By the Light of the Moon is anything to go by, Opera Australia is on track to realise that mission.
Opera Australia launched the recently commissioned production as part of its 2019 NSW Schools Tour initiative. It will run from March to September and will be performed to over 35,000 primary school students in their own school halls, across metropolitan and Western Sydney, ACT and regional NSW.
By the Light of the Moon is based on Edward Lear’s poem, The Owl and the Pussycat,and is a fully staged 50-minute musical comedy featuring a captivating narrative and some of opera’s most recognised tunes, and caters to all ages. AMPAG caught up with some of the Year 6 students in the audience who were unanimous in their approval of the performance:
‘I loved the costumes and colours, and the range of voices’, Becky.
‘Everything is much bigger than in real life. I loved the facial expressions.’Felix.
The production captured the imagination of the students, with some clearly entranced by the experience. In the Q&A session that followed the performance, the students wanted to get to the nitty gritty of opera:
‘How many times do you rehearse?’
‘How do you sing that high?’
‘When do you start to learn opera?’
‘Is this a real story or did you make it up?’
‘Are the costumes homemade?’
‘Do you struggle to sing that long?’
The teachers were very positive, one commenting that it was a wonderful opportunity to expose children to opera, often for the first time. The performers in turn were highly enthusiastic about performing to school children. Anna Stephens who played Agatha the Cat, said,
‘It’s wonderful performing to kids; you bounce off their energy, and if you can reach even one of them, it’s worthwhile.’
The Opera Australia Schools Touring team have delivered performances to more than 1.4 million students nationally since the program began in 2000. An essential part of the Tour is Opera Australia’s AUSLAN Shadow Interpreting program, which will bring an accessible version of the performance to schools with Deaf and hard of hearing audiences.
Opera Australia has also announced that Bloomberg has signed on as a supporting partner of the Schools Tour program, which will enable the tour to expand to visit more than 55,000 schoolchildren in NSW and Victoria this year. The touring team will also travel to a number of schools operated by the Bloomberg-supported Indigenous education group Go Foundation as part of the partnership.