Chicago Opera Theatre (multiple schools), Chicago, IL

View School Project Digital Portfolio: 2010

View Team Planning Process Digital Portfolio: 2010

Download School Project Report: 2010

Project Background:

Story: In the Fall of 2009, Chicago Arts Partnerships in Education staff and the Chicago Opera Theater education coordinator, Linden Christ, met with the General Director of COT, Brian Hickie, the General Manager, Roger Weitz, and the COT board education committee. The COT team asked CAPE what COT’s education program needed to go to the next level both aesthetically and pedagogically, and how that growth might be shared with the opera company’s publics.

The program was structured as a 25-week residency in multiple Chicago public schools, with a script, score, costumes and props shared across schools. Each school double-cast their production, with different actors performing the lead roles in the culminating performances. The scripts were designed to give performance opportunities to as many students as possible. The instruction was provided by talented young singers who worked in collaboration with the classroom teachers at each school. Visiting artists from the Chicago Arts Partnerships in Education (CAPE) added composition and design elements during a total of two visits per each of the five schools.

Partnership Organizations:

Chicago Arts Partnerships in Education
Music-in-Education National Consortium (MIENC)

Key Elements:

Teaching opera as a multi-media art form. CAPE pointed out that as well received the Opera for All program has been by both teachers and students in participating schools, having singers as the only type of teaching artists fails to represent the richness and complexity of opera as an art form. As a result, CAPE identified artists of several different disciplines who could collaborate with the students, singers and the classroom teachers to present a more comprehensive and authentic encounter with opera. This team included a musician who would teach composing to the students, a theater artist who would teach blocking and characterization, a sculptor to design innovative props and costume pieces with the students, a videographer to design projections with the students, a 2-D visual artist to work on set design elements, and a photographer to work on documentation. Each of 5 participating schools worked with singers and one member of the CAPE team to create design elementsused across all 5 schools. During the 2009-2010 school year, the students created student versions of Giasone, the thrilling story of Jason and the Argonauts. The CAPE artists worked with the students to create monster projections, harpy wings, fire breathing bull costumes, and “hero” music.

Raising the bar for aesthetic daring As COT prides itself on being “opera less ordinary” – performing contemporary and overlooked works from the classical repertory–COT challenged CAPE to provide its most experienced, cutting-edge artists as partners in the COT/CAPE collaboration.

Raising public awareness about innovations in opera education As COT provides a wide range of public forums, lectures, and seminars exploring its main-stage productions, COT sought to create an equally compelling series of public forums, lectures, and seminars exploring its education programs. This required rich and rigorous documentation of the COT/CAPE collaboration, professional development for teacher and artist presenters, and planning and collaboration with opera and education experts in designing an exemplary lecture/demonstration workshop for the public as a model for future programming.