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The Significance of Opera Camps
Opera Pacific's mainstage productions, extensive community outreach programs and energetic Guild Alliance combine to create a cultural resource for all of Southern California. More than 670,000 people have enjoyed Opera Pacific's productions at the Orange County Performing Arts Center, while over 575,000 young people have discovered the world of opera through the company's in-school presentations, student previews and nationally-recognized Opera Camp.
Opera Pacific's Opera Camp celebrated its ninth anniversary this past summer with the highest number of youth involved in the program — 50 children. These children, ages eight to 18, were accepted following auditions which took place in March 2008. The campers were primarily from Orange County, although several were from outside the area, including one young lady whose home was seven hours away!
The campers met from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, from July 16 to August 10. Classes were offered in music theory, set design, costumes and make-up, acting and diction. These classes were in addition to vocal coaching, solo performances and rehearsals each afternoon. As the auditions had been extremely successful, each role was double-cast with all cast members performing two of the four performances. Chorus members performed during all four performances, which also included a live ensemble of two violins, cello, flute, clarinet, piano and keyboard.
Due to each role being double-cast, there were two dress rehearsals. Title I school groups from Orange County were invited to attend each dress rehearsal in order to give the students an opportunity to see a live performance, as well as to help the cast and chorus gain the confidence to perform in front of a live audience. Because the students in attendance were from schools with no fine arts programs, the ultimate goal was to create at least one more future audience member.
As public school performing arts budgets and classes are being drastically cut each year throughout the United States, opera camps provide a phenomenal method to give talented youth something to work with. Every child involved in the camp setting will be able to learn a specific work, and be given an introduction to the world of music and production through a positive and enjoyable format. Additionally, it is extremely important for all fine arts organizations to provide their communities with a full realm of arts education for all age groups, as the future of the arts depends heavily on local organizations.
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