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Opera: Kids Can Too!

Mark Kiryluk

Performing with Central City Opera in La Boheme this summer has been an exceptional opportunity to learn and see a wonderful opera while being part of it! In second grade I became part of the Colorado Children's Chorale. I joined because I loved to sing. I never expected that I would get to be in two operas with them up in Central City! In 2007, after one year with the chorale, I was selected to be in Cinderella (Cendrillon) by Jules Massenet as a Sprite without vocal parts but plenty of staging and dancing. This year the Children's Chorale asked me (along with thirteen other children between the ages of ten through thirteen) to be in La Boheme. We are in the second act, set on Christmas Eve, and we have quite a few vocal parts. Opera is very fun and we enjoy every bit of it, but opera does not happen without some hard work on everyone's part.
We began our preparation for La Boheme in April. We met at a community church and practiced our vocal parts before we went up to Central City. Then on June sixteenth we took a bus to Central City to begin practicing on location. First, we practiced in a small room with a piano and the conductor, John Baril. Then we practiced with the main singers and the adult chorus. The sound was amazing. When we practiced by ourselves, a conductor from the Chorale sang other parts in order to prepare us for what the others would be singing in relation to what we were singing. Yet nothing could prepare us for the amazing sound generated by the number of voices and mix of all the sounds, notes, and words. It was all truly mind blowing. Later in the rehearsal we were staging. Staging is a critical time for listening and paying attention on the set. We also had to remember the latest version of staging as it changed very often. My favorite part in the staging is the acting. We all have mothers and fathers on the stage and we have to react to things happening around us with our "parents" as any child normally would. For example, when the toy seller, Parpingol, comes out we get to silently plea for toys.
For most of June we practiced in a room with only a piano. We were changing the staging quite often and always practicing. We practiced by ourselves at home, we practiced at the church with conductors from the Colorado Children's Chorale, and we practiced in rooms up in Central City. Finally, we got to go onstage! Onstage, everyone has to wear their stage shoes and we cannot wear them outside. This is because our set has a white floor and snow looks better clean anyway.  The stage is very small and I thinks it makes the opera more fun for the performers and the audience. It is fun because we can hear everyone and also we have no microphones or any amplification. After a few rehearsals we got to practice with the orchestra. It was also an amazing sound. Listening to tunes on the piano is very different then hearing them played by an orchestra. Dress rehearsals, when we practice in our costumes, brought us one step closer to opening night. Dress rehearsals began on July first. La Boheme was originally set in the 1830's but for this production it is set in the 193o's. Many people sport berets, sweaters, furs,  newsboy caps, and pea coats. Although our costumes are meant for winter and are very warm, after a while you get used to it and do not mind the heat anymore. After so much practicing we were ready to start the show.
For our first "show", we invited the critics and some of our friends and family. I call it a "show" because it was the final dress rehearsal but it felt like a show because we were performing for an audience. It was tremendously exciting. Two days later opening night was upon us. That was just amazing. First of all the crowd is quite close so you can see them very easily. Secondly, opening night is just very exciting! We have many shows before our last show on August twelfth so my summer will be full of fun, driving, and best of all La Boheme.