Who says you have to go to a theater to enjoy opera?
This past week, a group of students from North Grade Elementary staged their own original opera at the Cultural Council of Palm Beach County offices on Lake Avenue.
The production was part of the council’s “Art in My Backyard” program that features after-school instructions and interactions with Palm Beach County arts organizations. The students have been working with Palm Beach Opera at the council for weeks, where they learned about the art and were given a backstage tour.
Trish Halverson, the council’s manager of arts and cultural education, said the program helps demystify opera and lets students know the art form is something they can understand, appreciate and participate in.
There’s another benefit.
“The arts help improve academic performance and have a positive effect on social and emotional learning,” Halverson said. “In the age of cellphones, opera or participation in the arts in general, gives young people a sense of place and where they fit in within the world.”
Learning more about opera also helps students to hone their communication and problem-solving skills.
“Each student had a particular role to play in these operas — performing, creating scenery, stage-managing, greeting audience members — so they see themselves as unique individuals who can contribute something to the greater whole,” Halverson said. “These are life skills that can’t be taught through a textbook or test.”
— KEVIN D. THOMPSON