Crestview students learn classical lessons

Students will have the opportunity to see two operas during their study.


COLUMBIANA — Crestview Middle School Excel students and gifted art students are getting a first-hand look at the world of opera.

They are participating in a year-long study of opera that includes help from Opera Western reserve and the Pittsburgh Opera in the form of two Carmen “opera trunks.”

The Opera Western Reserve’s trunk includes CDs, videos and a variety of books introducing opera to students. Opera Western Reserve young artists Karen Fisher, Lindsey Anderson and Diana Farrell will visit the school Tuesday to perform for the students as part of the company’s Fun with Opera program.

The Pittsburgh Opera trunk offers books, CDs, photographs, costumes, props, makeup and lesson ideas and will be in the school for a month. It also includes an interactive presentation by Pittsburgh Opera resident artists.

These trunks will introduce “Carmen” to the students and help prepare them for a Nov. 5 field trip to the Opera Western Reserve for a version of the opera for area schoolchildren.

The students have been listening to a variety of opera CDs during class and have remarked about how much work goes into actually producing an opera.

“The opera is going to be cool,” said Mason Cozza. Others commented on looking forward to seeing the costumes and the spoken dialogue mixed with singing. All agreed it will be a new experience for them.

Susan Kershner, Excel teacher, and Michelle Pelino, art teacher, are members of this year’s Pittsburgh Opera Academy, a yearlong professional development opportunity created for teachers. It is designed to immerse educators and their students into the world of opera and arts integration.

Educators from all grade levels and content areas from Ohio and Pennsylvania attend full day workshops, experience opera from a varied repertoire, develop lessons designed to connect the arts to other academic content areas and prepare students to attend an opera performance.

The Pittsburgh Opera will be presenting four operas at the Benedum Center this year. They are Tchaikovsky’s “Eugene Onegin,” Verdi’s “Falstaff,” Bizet’s “Carmen” and Mozart’s “The Marriage of Figaro.”

The academy prepares detailed presentations for the teachers to use with their students which summarize each opera, provide photographs of productions around the world, discuss the historical significance of the time period and relate world events around the composer’s life and opera premiere.

Along with the lessons by the Opera Academy, the Excel students will be creating a multigenre portfolio throughout the year, gathering a collection of writings and visual art projects.

Gifted art students have been researching Mozart and Bizet, composers of the operas they will be attending, and creating pencil drawings of them. The drawings will be reduced and incorporated in handmade books they are designing.

The art students have also researched the design of opera shoes and boots from different centuries and have enlarged a contour drawing of their favorite shoe or boot.

The program’s culminating activity will be an April 29 trip to Pittsburgh to see “The Marriage of Figaro” as guests of the Pittsburgh Opera Academy.

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