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Opera in education

The wicked father kept Cinderella in her place, which was to be out of sight when the prince came calling. (Baker City Herald photograph by S. John Collins).
The wicked father kept Cinderella in her place, which was to be out of sight when the prince came calling. (Baker City Herald photograph by S. John Collins).

By CHRISTINA WOOD

Of the Baker City Herald

Students at North Baker Elementary School and their invited guests from Baker Valley Seventh-day Adventist School celebrated a morning at the opera Jan. 24, when the Portland Opera Works presented Cinderella.

POW is the touring division of Portland Operas Education and Outreach program and takes productions of opera to more than 80 schools and communities throughout Oregon and southwest Washington.

The group performed at North Baker as well as Haines School after performances in Jordan Valley. Their next stop will be a performance of An American Magic Flute at Elgin Elementary.

Audiences are treated to either a contemporary adaptation of Rossinis Cinderella, as were the North Baker students, or An American Magic Flute, which combines the melodies of Mozarts opera with Native American storytelling.

The cast hails from far and wide with Marie Bafus, Gary Ruschman and pianist Danielle Deswert from San Francisco, Kelvin Chan from Minnesota, Nicole Blackmer of Seattle, Christia Kowalski, a native German with ties to Battleground, Wash.; baritone David Babinet from Connecticut, Tiffany Roberts from Texas, and Brett Hyberger from Iowa.

The company travels complete with set, costumes and props making Cinderella a feast for the eyes as well as the ears.

Cinderella lives with her stepfather and his two other daughters. They force Cinderella into a life of servitude; she is unhappy, they are unhappy. Then an invitation to the ball arrives from the Prince.

Cinderella teaches a valuable lesson: how you treat others affects how they treat you. She models absolute patience and forgiveness even in the face of spiteful adversity. Cinderella reinforces the lesson of kindness in a beautiful and poignant way.

North Bakers Principal Beth Bigalow said her students really enjoyed the performance.

They were very quiet, which is usually an indication they are paying a great deal of attention to it. They followed the story line well and it was a good introduction to opera and the fine arts for them, she said.

The students got to join in a little audience participation as they cheered the heroine and booed the villains. The opera company provided study guides for the teachers to help children understand the art form of opera in words they could understand.

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