OPERA?Iowa to perform at St. Edmond Monday

The OPERA Iowa Educational Touring Troupe, a Des Moines Metro Opera program, will perform at St. Edmond Catholic School Monday.

The group, brought to St. Edmond through the efforts of the school’s Parent/Teacher Connection group, will first perform for students.

“They’re going to come and perform the show the ‘Three Little Pigs,'” Susan Helling, St. Edmond Elementary music instructor, said. “It’s written by John Davies, but a lot of its music, that’s been borrowed from Mozart. It’s the story of the three little pigs, but the kids will get to see how an opera really functions.”

For many of the school’s students, it will be their first opera.

“A lot of our students have seen musicals before, and have that background knowledge, so we build on that to study what is an opera and how does it function,” Helling said.

The troupe will also do workshops with the school’s fourth and fifth grade students.

“There’s a variety of things they present,” Helling said. “Some of the ones they’ve done in the past are how to make an opera, and the troupe members will have the kids generate ideas of what the plot should be and what the characters should do. In the time of the workshop, they will create a little mini-opera that the kids have had a hand in creating.”

She added, “There’s also one on costuming and makeup and how those things can really help design a character for the audience.”

There will also be a Monday evening performance of “Elixir of Love” for the community. The opera is a comedy about a buffoon in love with the town flirt. The event is open to the public, and admission is free.

Helling said she enjoys opera from when she attended college.

“My alma matter is Simpson College, which is in Indianola, where Des Moines Metro got its start and where they still practice and hold their summer productions,” she said. “My first experience with opera was going to see the Des Moines Metro’s ‘La Traviata’ the year before I started college. To have the opportunity to see the Iowa opera practicing, using the Simpson facilities ever year, really kept instilling the passion I have for opera.”

It is important to expose young students to opera.

“The more opportunities we can give our students to experience art forms outside their regular realm of what they would see in Fort Dodge is wonderful, especially if it’s as close as Des Moines,” Helling said. “I think it’s my responsibility to expose them to these kinds of things, as well as jazz, world music. We need to have the experiences we give them reflect themselves, but also give them a window to the outside world.”