Thursday, January 10, 2019

Sometimes I Don't Know What to Say.

Email received today from San Francisco Opera about upcoming educational programs leaves me scratching my head!

First, there's this:
For children ages 3–6. 
Journey through Engelbert Humperdinck’s delightful children’s opera Hansel and Gretel and meet new characters, learn music and play games along the way. In this workshop, we’ll explore music, rhythm, visual arts and movement. These workshops for families are designed to foster social-emotional development, increased language and fine-gross motor skills.
Now, I loved Hansel und Gretel as much as anyone; I think it's a great and underrated opera. But calling it a "delightful children's opera" means deliberately ignoring the fact that this is an opera in which:

  1. The children are going hungry at the beginning of the opera.
  2. Their mother flies into a rage at them over spilled milk.
  3. Their mother sends them out to forage for berries in woods known to be inhabited by a dangerous personage (the Witch).
  4. The Witch has already imprisoned a large children's chorus worth of kids.
  5. The Witch tries to kill them.

I mean, I think there is a lot of humor in the opera, but it is very dark-toned. I can easily imagine it terrifying a 3 to 6 year old.

Then, there's our old friend, Carmen for Families, and, well, it features an Army deserter who has abandoned his presumed fiancée, smuggling, a wild woman who does what she will sexually, and murder. This is for age 6 and up, of course!


Henry Holland said...

Keep kids who aren't teenagers a million miles from Turn of the Screw in that case! I'd suggest a "kids version" of Britten's great A Midsummer Night's Dream. Good children chorus parts, Puck is a major character and the Rude Mechanicals in Act III would be fun.

Lisa Hirsch said...

That is an excellent idea, although this house is enormous for MSND, which SFO hasn't done since 1993...

David Bratman said...

I never saw Hansel und Gretel as a child, but in earlier childhood I was frightened by Disney's Pinocchio, and I think that's supposed to be a children's movie.

CruzSF said...

Carmen for Families must be a thing that keep in storage. I remember it turning up a few years ago, too. Very bizarre.

Lisa Hirsch said...

I think this isn't Carmen for Families, and I should correct that to whatever it is, but it's using Carmen to introduce kids to opera.

CruzSF said...

I could see Carmen being appropriate for late high schoolers, but elementary school kids? No.

Lisa Hirsch said...

Romantic gypsy life, smugglers, no cigarettes or murder. :)