By Laurel Howat
During intermission at a February performance of Eurydice, I strolled past a boy who was sitting with his mother, a sketch of what appeared to be a stage design on his lap. I couldn’t help stopping to ask if he was enjoying this beautiful piece about a dead bride connecting with her dad in the underworld. “Oh yes!” the boy enthused. I told him and his mother how wonderful it was to see kids his age soaking up opera. I also mentioned Opera Camp, LA Opera’s annual summer program for budding culture vultures in his age demographic.
The boy’s response? Been there, done that. Yes, it turns out I was talking to an Opera Camp alumnus from the past two years. After playing prominent roles in both seasons, he was looking forward to this year’s Camp. His mother chimed in with a heartfelt thanks to the Opera League for funding Opera Camp, thereby helping to make her son’s aspirations possible.
This short interchange with the boy and mother absolutely made my night. This is what is it all about. This makes it all worthwhile: all the anxiety of juggling dates and finding speakers and performers for Opera League events, recruiting and mentoring new members and volunteers, slogging through traffic to meet and greet students arriving for student matinees...
It all boils down that scene of someone introducing someone else to the sublime world of opera, lighting that spark.
Of course, as of now, there are no scheduled events. We had to postpone our Peter Hemmings Awards gala, the League's marquee event that lets us fund LA Opera’s Opera Camp. So there may be no Opera Camp this summer, although LAO has not confirmed that. And while that exchange with the boy and his mom was only a couple months ago, it feels like forever ago.
That picture of me above was taken two forevers ago, when I was in fourth grade. Yes, I was a happy tot, the offspring of thoughtful, attentive parents who grew up listening to amazing music on this exotic and ancient device called the record player (look it up on Wikipedia), and attended concerts with my mom’s parents or classmates.
I know I am preaching to the choir, but it always bears repeating, especially right now as we all hunker down indoors: We all need to promote opera to the upcoming generations as well as to our peers. Its synergy of singing, music, art, staging, and acting has the ability to uplift and transform family, friends, students, seniors, perfect strangers, and our community at large.
To that end, I’d like to call out a couple digital initiatives for you to share with everyone you know.
The first is our first all-digital BRAVO. The Spring 2020 BRAVO (issue 54) will not be in print but will be all digital, with articles published right here on operaleague.org. The first of these articles is already live, our piece on the unsung heroes of the Pittance Chamber Orchestra. Through the next several weeks you can expect more fodder for the gray matter, including conversations with LA Opera’s spotlight maestro and associate principal cello, a check-in with countertenor Anthony Roth Costanzo (LAO’s Aknahten), and more YAPping with a YAP, this time Sarah Vautour. And more.
Also on the homepage you can find “Opera in the Time of Corona,” a listing of all the myriad ways you can scratch that cultural itch. This list will be updated regularly so be sure to come back.
Finally, the best way for you to share is to do literally that: share Opera League postings on social media. We are on Facebook and Instagram. If you are too, please be sure to follow us, and when you see a post from us, go ahead and Like/Comment/Share Share Share.
I am not going to say these are such weird/strange/unprecedented times, because it seems like everyone else has already exhausted that line. How about this? We are living through truly Wagnerian times: unbelievably long and very, very sad.
Wherever you and your loved ones are sheltering, I hope you are all staying healthy and safe. You want to chat? Just hit me up at firstname.lastname@example.org.