The second graders at Bear River Charter School held an opera, written and performed by them, in the school gym Thursday evening.
The title was “Far From Earth.”
The story, set to music, is about a group of astronauts on their way to the moon for a lunar eclipse, but they end up crashing on Mars after they go off course.
The space travelers need to fix their spaceship and get out to work on it. They discover their tools have disappeared and they set out to find them. They discover a castle and ask for help from the royalty that live there.
It turns out some space animals took the tools and they return them to the astronauts. Everyone works together to repair the shuttle and the space travelers make it to the moon in time to see the lunar eclipse.
“The students chose the things to research and base their opera on,” said the second grade teacher Frances Caplan. “We talked about why what they wanted to base it on couldn’t happen.”
This is Caplan’s second try at a children’s opera, and she plans to continue doing it.
“The kids learn storytelling, science, singing, voice, vocabulary and their way around a stage,” she said. “It’s a multi-dimensional learning experience.”
They had to work together as a group, and everything is child created. “The students were involved in the writing process, they came up with the theme and we voted on it,” Caplan said. “They chose the characters, the astronauts, space animals and the royalty.”
Caplan said the students had been studying the night sky at the same time the lunar eclipse was going on.
“I think it is a valuable experience. It’s critical to have the support from Opera by Children.”
Opera by Children is an organization that sends mentors to help with every aspect of producing an opera. Michael Ballam created the organization in 1977. They provide training to teachers on how to write an opera for a class. They also provide assistance, which is essential.
Pamala Gee was the lead for the OPC.
She enlisted Lisa Sanderson to mentor for visual arts; Marianne Sidwell was mentor for music; and, Kathy Bateman was the mentor for drama.
Caplan said the parents were thrilled with the experience.