Through the generosity of an anonymous donor, who began attending the opera with parents at a young age, the love of opera is being passed on to island children. For more than a dozen years, the Island Institute has coordinated the logistics involved in providing the opportunity for island students, teachers and parents to attend a children’s opera at Westbrook High School, just west of Portland.
This year’s opera, held on April 26, was Rossini’s The Barber of Seville, in which the legendary barber Figaro uses every trick in the book to free the lovely Rosina from the clutches of crotchety Dr. Bartolo and unite her with the dashing Count Almaviva. The opera was performed in English, in an abridged one-hour format, and was fully staged with colorful sets and costumes.
Nearly 220 students, teachers and parents from seven island schools-Frenchboro, Long, Chebeague, Cliff, Peaks, Swan’s and Vinalhaven-enjoyed this year’s performance by the Boston Lyric Opera.
The students seemed to be especially impressed by the costumes and the sets. The teachers also enjoyed the production, and were excited about bringing classical music and theater to their students.
Due to distance and ferry schedules, it’s not easy for some of the participants to get to Portland and back, so each year several teachers turn the experience into a multi-day adventure and take their students to museums, ball games and activities not readily available on their islands.
Island Institute staff spend weeks in advance arranging much of the transportation, meals and lodging.
It’s a lot of work to bring so many children to the mainland, but when the music begins, and the curtain rises, it’s all worth it, as the entire audience-children and adults alike-is once again transported to the colorful, enthralling world of opera.
For more information on the Institute’s work in island and coastal schools, please visit http://islandinstitute.org/priorities and click on Schools/Education.
Sally E. Perkins is the programs events coordinator at the Island Institute.