Oswego Opera’s “Opera’TUNES’ities” Offers Opera Fun for Kids and Families

If you want to hear the Big Bad Wolf sing W. A. Mozart’s famous “Queen of the Night” aria from The Magic Flute (way lower than it was originally written), then this program is for you. Opera’TUNE’ities – Opera for Fun for Kids and Their Families will be presented at 2:30pm on Saturday April 10 in the Gym at Frederick Leighton Elementary School, Oswego. Two short operas for children comprise the approximately 80-minute program with intermission, beginning with “Never Tickle a Mule,” a story of the building of the Erie Canal. The second opera is the ever-popular “The Three Little Pigs,” in an adaptation using music from Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s operas to tell the story.

The idea for Opera”TUNE’ities came from Artistic Director Mack Richardson’s long association as a conductor and manager with symphony orchestras and their education and outreach programs. Oswego Opera has not been known for this form of educational programming, and in beginning this new line of productions for the wider community, Richardson says that, “I feel that it is especially effective if children can be entertained and educated by classical music in the company of their parents, grandparents, siblings and other relatives.” The “family program,” an age-appropriate experience with opera in a relaxed atmosphere, not too lengthy, and at friendly prices, provides this opportunity.

The Leighton Elementary School gym, arranged in close cooperation with the Oswego City School administration and the Leighton staff, is a terrific location for the production because the school itself or a similar location is already familiar to the target audience of young children. All of the performers have years of experience not only as professional singers but also as singers with a mission to perform for and interact with children.

Performers in Opera’TUNE’ities will be Elisabeth Kisselstein, Jean Loftus, Robert Allen, Jimi James and composer-writer John Davies, with pianist Rebecca Horning accompanying. Music for “Never Tickle a Mule” was written by Carl Johengen, and features the Marvelous Musical McCully Family – Dinty (Mr. James), Elizabeth (Ms. Loftus), Charley (Mr. Allen) and Rachel Ann (Ms. Kisselstein)– a mythical family who worked on the building of the Erie Canal.

Together this family of singers and entertainers, now long since deceased, return each year on the Fourth of July to perform their annual “revue,” presided over by daughter Rachel. Their story, often relating hardship and danger, is also full of love and fun, especially with their mule, Caliban. He could kick like a cannon, had the biggest ears of any mule on the canal, and a handsome face that all the girls liked to kiss!

“The Three Little Pigs” features Miss Despina Pig (Ms. Kisselstein), her rowdy brothers Cherubino (Mr. Allen) and Don Giovanni (Mr. James), and of course the famous Wolfgang Bigbad (Mr. Davies). Despina and her brothers, as goes the story, are old enough to build their own houses, but How? Despina plans to go to the Library to find out, but her brothers don’t like books, are too rowdy, play too many video games and watch to much Sponge Bob Square Pig Pants on TV. So they decide to use straw and sticks for their houses, and we know how Wolfgang BigBad can blow those kinds of houses down. No violence here, though; even Wolfgang joins in the Finale after he falls down the chimney of Despina’s brick house. It is doubtful one could hear more hilarious snorts and howls in one afternoon than in this show.

Well-known tunes from Mozart’s “The Magic Flute,” “Cosi fan tutte,” “Don Giovanni” and “The Marriage of Figaro” are delightfully adapted by Mr. Davies to bring the story to life. By coincidence, some of the music from these same operas in their original form (and more) will be performed in concert by Oswego Opera on Sunday, April 18 at 2:00pm at First United Methodist Church in Oswego.

Ticket prices are Adults $7, Children $3, with Family of Four packages at $15 and $12 with additional adults at $3 and additional kids at $1. All public, private, home school and college educators may buy tickets for $5. Tickets may be ordered by mail at Oswego Opera Theatre, PO Box 3039, Oswego 13126, or by email at [email protected] Tickets will also be available at the door. For further information, go to www.OswegoOpera.org or call 315-638-1085.