To celebrate the 150th anniversary of the first production of Richard Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde, we’ve got 6 tips for bringing a little opera to your homeschool.
1. Match your opera to their interests. Kids who dig Shakespeare can get excited about Verdi’s Macbeth or Otello,while Greek mythology fans might dig Gluck’s Orfeo ed Euridice or Montiverdi’s Ritorno di Ulisse in Patria. Being at least vaguely familiar with the characters and plots of an opera can make the new experience more comfortable.
2. Watch one of the Looney Tunes operas. (No, really!) The Rabbit of Seville (1950), in which Bugs accidentally becomes the Barber of Seville and torments Elmer Fudd and set to Rossini’s Barber of Seville, or What Opera, Doc? (1957), set to parts of Wagner’s Der Ring Des Nibelungen and Tannhauser, are both good options.
3. Familiarize your kids with classics operas by reading a book like Sing Me a Story: The Metropolitan Opera’s Book of Opera Stories by Jane Rosenberg or The Barefoot Book of Stories from the Opera by Shahrukh Husain.
4. Don’t make your first opera a marathon test of stamina. If your child is ready to go after an hour, leave at the end of the act while your child is still excited about the show instead of forcing him to stick it out till the end.
5. Encourage kids to pay attention to the sets, which are often as interesting as the stories. In The Saturdays, Rush makes his Saturday splurge a ticket to Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen, where he’s especially impressed by the machinery that controls the fire-breathing dragon Fafner onstage.
6. Play opera music at home, and act out stories together based on the way the music feels. Encourage kids to focus on the feeling of the music, not the specific words — especially when they are in another language.