Opera can be one of the more daunting art forms. I admit I was worried I would be bored and uncomfortable the first time I attended The Minnesota Opera. Opera's tend to be long and even when sung in English, it can be hard to follow a conversation sung soprano. When I got there, I was rapt and fell in love. My fears were relieved. First, modern operas display subtitles for the audience, so you can always follow the story. Second, it was just a really great story and the performers brought it to life. Perhaps most importantly, the seating is comfortable, so sitting for three hours did not leave me squirming.
Attending Minnesota Opera With Kids
What about attending with kids? I recommend giving it a try after your kids are able to sit through full length children's theater performances. While operas tend to be more expensive and have longer performance times than other forms of theater, if you cut your teeth on children's theater, it is not as daunting as its reputation suggests. Once you get past the language barrier, opera is simply a cross between a musical and a classical orchestra performance.
It is good to keep in mind that while we share operas that may have themes that could interest children, children under six are not allowed in the hall. Opera may be best suited to children who are experienced theatergoers and strong readers. For younger children, check out the Project Opera performances that are performed by area high school students under the direction of the Minnesota Opera. These performances tend to be shorter, less formal, and in English. I took a 6 year old to a Project Opera performance of Memory Boy and it was a good practice run.
I have a few more suggestions for making the most of an opera visit with children in my article: Rusalka versus The Little Mermaid: One Story, Three Endings.
Other Ways to Introduce Children to Opera
The Minnesota Opera offers the following children's programs for families who want to introduce their kids to this art form.
- Summer Opera Camp
- Project Opera - This teen program culminates in performances.
- Imagine Opera - An overview of opera with YouTube videos you can watch together at home.
- Camille’s Rainbow is a performance for babies and toddlers co-commissioned by Carnegie Hall and Minnesota Opera. You can introduce the youngest children to opera with this series of short videos animated by Dan Scully featuring the music of Camille's Rainbow.
If you want to introduce your child to opera at home, you could consider a book like Sing Me a Story: The Metropolitan Opera's Book of Opera Stories for Children. We've included a Bookshop.org affiliate link and we receive a small commission on any sales through this link. You can also find similar books at the library.
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