Students in Year 5 and Year 7 have successfully completed their Opera Kids project, organised by the music department. This is the second year that Richmond Park School, together with the company Más que Ópera, has worked to give the children the opportunity to experience this musical genre from multiple perspectives.

It has been a long-term journey that began at the end of October 2023 with a guided tour to the Teatro Real. Our students, supported by their work during music lessons, had the chance to see and understand from the inside the way an opera house operates to create its performances.

The following stage of the project involved being part of the audience. In case of Year 7, it was in an adaptation of Gioacchino Rossini’s ‘The Barber of Seville’, while Year 5 attended a children’s version of Gustav Holst’s comic operetta ‘The Idea’. Both performances took place at the Real Teatro de Retiro.

The project continued in the music lessons, where they were introduced to the opera singing technique and learned to sing 5 arias of ‘Turandot’, by Giacomo Puccini, entirely in Italian. They also explored the milestones of the opera history, different voice types and the characters and story of ‘Turandot’. Since this opera is set in China, they delved into and played one of the main pentatonic melodies from its musical score. Additionally, the students participated in two workshops, led by professional opera singers from the company Más que ópera. During these workshops they rehearsed the learned arias and received additional details to prepare for the final performance.

At this point, they were ready to share all they had learnt with their parents and families in specific open lessons at school. They were very enriching and fun. 

Both year groups and their teachers were very lucky to receive a visit from Ms. Regina Llamas, who holds a PHD in East Asian Languages and Cultures from Harvard University and is a historian from IE University here in Madrid. She shared videos and described the main characteristics of Chinese theatre. Through this experience, we were able to compare two musical cultures and identify similarities and differences between this genre and the European opera.

The grand finale happened in the Green Hall of the Teatros del Canal. All participants were part of a performance of ‘Turandot’, being on stage with professional soloist singers and accompanied by a chamber orchestra. The vibrant and exciting rendition made Nessun dorma sound better than ever!

Long live the opera!

Ms. Orton and Ms. Fernández