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Operation of an Opera

By Staff | Apr 15, 2011

Estherville Lincoln Central students learned about opera Thursday from the Opera Iowa Troupe. During a workshop, these students were dressed up as characters in the play Sid the Serpent. From left to right are Lexi Palmer, Blake Miller, Connor Strenge, and down in front is Jaycelyn Walters. Photo by Moriah Hawn

On Thursday, at Roosevelt, students enjoyed various workshops on the making of an opera. Opera Iowa was there to inspire students and test their knowledge of what goes into a successful opera. Opera Iowa also celebrated their 60th performance at the school.

In the Decide, Design, Direct workshop, the focus was what is involved in set making, and what the singers need to do to be stage ready. Opera Iowa members Claude Cassion and Jennifer Hendrickson were asking students many questions, and the students listened carefully and raised their hands often to shout out answers.

There are five main things that go into an opera. First is scenery, it is important to get the scenery right, as to not confuse the audience. Second is lighting, you must have a skilled lighting technician that knows the scenes and can set the mood. Students were asked what lighting would be used for a happy scene, PINK! YELLOW! ORANGE! Were some of the colors shouted out, Jennifer and Claude agreed. Next they were asked what colors would be used to set a scary scene. BLACK! RED! DARK PURPLE! “Very good! Wow you guys are good!” Jennifer said. Third on the list is to dress in costumes. Fourth is make-up and wigs, and fifth is using props.

Claude talked about set design, he stressed that the set designer must brainstorm for ideas, pick one, then make a small scale model of the set that is to be used. The small-scale model is used to work out any problems that might arise. He brought up that if you didn’t make a small model, and built your set, then found out it would not work for your stage; it could end up being very costly.

Jennifer talked about the backdrop or canvas as it is called. She explained that for the play Sid the Serpent, it is set at a circus, the backdrop needed to have a circus scene painted on it. When the different acts come up there are different canvas backdrops set up for easy change of scenes.

Students were volunteering to be transformed into the main characters from Sid the Serpent. Four lucky ones were picked. First up was Jaycelyn Walters, was sent to make-up and wigs with Jennifer, she was changed into the clown character. Meanwhile Claude was getting Blake Miller ready for his part the strongman. A mustache, goatee, and sideburns were decidedly a strongman feature. Lexi Palmer was up next, being changed into the juggler, her face was painted white and symbols were painted on each cheek. Last but not least was Connor Strenge who was transformed into Sid the Serpent. He couldn’t be a serpent without scales, so Claude used an unused stocking to make the pattern of scales for Connor’s face.

After everyone was stage ready they were given props to work with, the clown needed a horn, the juggler couldn’t juggle, but she could balance a plate on a stick, the strongman needed a weight barbell, and Sid needed his luggage.

They posed for a picture then off they went to get ready to see the play Sid the Serpent by the Opera Iowa troupe.

Sid the Serpent is set in a circus, and Sid wants so badly to be a singer, but honestly he is quite awful in the beginning. He travels to Rome, London, and New York to learn how to be a singer. In all the areas he stops he finds he just doesn’t quite fit in, but he learns some new things and finds out that he can sing in his own special way. He also learns that he needs to be more confident in his own abilities in order to succeed. The play was wonderful and all the students really enjoyed it. A round of applause is in order and as they say at the end of an opera, Bravo! Bravo!