Because CCO produces in the summer we have some unique challenges in presenting community programs. First, we don’t own an accessible venue in which to present programs outside the summer. Most opera companies reach their largest numbers of young and new audiences through student performances, paid dress rehearsals and other performances in their theatres. Our single Family Matinee only attracts around 400 student and family patrons each year (the rest of the audience consists of company members and older patrons looking for cheap tickets). So we must take our communityprograms on the road (whether locally or farther afield) in order to reach a viable number of students and new audiences.
|Saints and Sinners, performed in Ouray - Pictured: Bradley Thompson, Jennifer DeDominici, Max Hosmer, Michelle Diggs Thompson. Photo by Erin Joy Swank|
These “deviations” from standard opera company protocol have allowed us to develop unique programming that is mobile and can be offered any time of year. While we do offer summer programming, the majority of our work occurs from September through June. Since we’ve just reached the end of a school year, I’ve been reviewing our offerings for the past year. Here are a few highlights:
- A robust partnership with Inside the Orchestra – 60-plus performances for families and students in the 2014-15 school year
- More than 1500 middle school students experienced the bilingual opera En Mis Palabras-In My Own Words. Student and teacher response was overwhelmingly positive. The Principal at Hemphill MS in Strasburg commented, “The performance was excellent and shared a great message. It was amazing to be able to expose our students to the message that all cultures struggle with similar issues.”
- A new-for-CCO holiday production of Amahl and the Night Visitors was presented in partnership with St. James United Methodist Church, Highlands Ranch. This touching family production brought in new (and old) audience members during the holiday season.
- We presented 185 performances or teaching sessions for students and families in the Denver metro area in the 2014-15 school year
- While we have drastically cut back on touring due to fewer dedicated grants, we still were able to take run-out programs to Glenwood Springs, Summit County, Ouray, Loveland, Colorado Springs, Strasburg, Montrose, Bailey and southeastern Wyoming. A full house (family audience) at Ouray’s historic Wright Opera House leaped to their feet at the end of Saints and Sinners, demanding encores. They have requested a repeat visit this Fall.
- Some of our favorite projects each year involve working with students to create original “operas” based on curricular studies. This school year, Emily Murdock worked with 5th grade students and 3rd grade students in two Denver schools to create shows about American Revolutionary history and Colorado history. We know from the teachers who work with those students regularly that they never forget these experiences (or the information they write about in their operas). A student commented, “I learned that making an opera is a BIG BIG BIG job.” Studies show that students who participate in the Arts become supporters and attenders as adults.
Find out more about Central City Opera's Education & Community Engagement programs.