Stopping bullying through the opera

Published 12:06am Friday, April 12, 2013

Area children grades K-6 will experience music as never before at the performances of this year’s children’s opera, “The Billy Goats Gruff!”

Twenty performances presented between April 15-26 to more than 7,000 students in southwest Mississippi and Concordia Parish are all part of the education outreach program sponsored by the Natchez Festival of Music.

The April 15-19 performances will be at Franklin County Lower Elementary and Franklin County Upper Elementary in Franklin County, at North Pike Elementary in Summit, at Brookhaven Elementary, Brookhaven Academy and the Mississippi School of Arts in Brookhaven, at Jefferson County Elementary School in Fayette, and at Vidalia Lower and Vidalia Upper schools in Concordia Parish. Public and private schools in Adams County will attend performances together.

At Braden Auditorium, 10 Homochitto St., in Natchez, April 22-26, students from the following schools will enjoy this production: Adams County Christian School, Cathedral Elementary, Frazier Primary, McLaurin Elementary, Morgantown Elementary, Trinity Episcopal Day School and West Primary, as well as Wilkinson County Christian School and Centreville.

The public is invited to attend any of the performances at Braden. The performances will be at 9:30 a.m. Monday through Friday and 12:30 p.m. Tuesday through Friday. The halls will be ringing with music and laughter. The schedule is posted at natchezfestivalofmusic.com under the “Fat Lady for Young Patrons” tab.

This opera, written by John Davies originally for the Kansas City Opera and now performed across the country, features strategies for dealing with bullies.

Davies, libretticist for the opera, selected the words for the opera while using arias from famous operas, using the music of W. A. Mozart, G. Donizetti and G. Rossini.

When the Three Billy Goats Gruff are prevented by a big bully from going home in their usual way, they brainstorm, using skills taught by their moms, dads and teachers. The two boy goats go home a different way and share their difficulties with grownups.

Because the bully has her doll, the girl goat tromps to the crest of the bridge, confronts the bully and pushes him off of the bridge. Concerned for his well-being, she shows her would-be adversary kindness by asking about his well-being. When the boy goats return with help, she is able to introduce a forlorn ex-bully as their new friend.

For these roles, professional musicians Rachel Arky, Ivan Conrad, Joseph Ryan and Diana Thompson auditioned in New York with Dr. Jay Dean, the Festival’s Artistic Director. Jonathan Levin returns to the Festival this year as the Artistic Director/Accompanist for the program, while the Stage Director will be Diana Glaze and the Stage Manager James Boykin.

 

Bobbye Wynn is a retired music teacher from the Natchez-Adams School District and serves as Chairman of the Children’s Outreach Program for the Natchez Festival of Music. For more information, go to the “Outreach” tab on the Festival’s website at www.natchezfestivalofmusic.com.