One of the exciting aspects of being a performer in HGO’s Opera to Go! is putting our show up in unique places every day. This week we are on the road, taking our technological, forty-five minute version of The Magic Flute to Midland, TX.
This morning we performed our first show in Midland at the Carver Center, a local school where gifted and talented elementary school students attend twice a week. We arrived to find a surprisingly resonant brick auditorium, which is always a treat for us as singers. Since we perform primarily in schools, we are always adapting to a new acoustic and a new group of children (which varies amazingly in mood from one school to another). Some rooms have a dry acoustic that can make it more difficult for us as singers, and some give us a live, ringing sound that flatters voices but demands a much more detailed and strong approach to diction. In this case, projecting the sound was easy, but in order to make the performance understandable and easy to follow, we really had to heighten the intensity of our diction. The size of the stage can also vary widely, and we have to think about everything from our blocking during the show to watching sightlines so the students cannot see us when we are behind the set. Making adjustments like this are so important for us, as we really want each child to be able to completely understand what we are doing onstage, and to enjoy every aspect of the performance without distraction.
After spending our usual half hour setting up and putting on our costumes, the kids began to file in. Several cast members were still warming up their voices backstage, so our director began by speaking to the children about the exercises that we were singing and explaining why opera singers warm up. Soon the audience was full and we began the performance. I’m happy to report that the kids in Midland are absolutely wonderful, and were among the most attentive that I have ever seen! When we finish a show we always allow some time for questions, and these students did not disappoint, asking about everything from set design to how to sing high notes.
After a quick trip back to the hotel and lunch, we made our way to a second school, Emerson Elementary. Here our audience consisted of a large group of fourth-graders, their teachers, and several members of the local media! As it turns out, Opera to Go! was featured on the evening news, and a story and photo will appear in the local paper on Wednesday. The second show of the day went as well as the first, and the children were extremely responsive.
The evening brought us to the home of a member of Midland Opera Theater’s board. Sue, our amazing host, cooked a delicious dinner for our group and her fellow board members, and it was a great time to connect with opera enthusiasts in another part of our state. For those who have never been to Midland, these people know how to have a good time! The board members were all so friendly and gracious, and we had a great time getting to know them.