Opera for the young and fun in Hinsdale
Opera For The Young singers Diana Stoic of Skokie plays Cinderella and Mark Craig of Chicago plays Prince Charming in an opera based on the fairy tale and performed at Madison School. | Buzz Orr~Sun-Times Media
Updated: April 29, 2013 9:56AM
HINSDALE — Cinderella didn’t just go to the ball, she went to the opera at Madison School.
Opera for the Young, a troupe based in Madison, Wis., performed the opera “Cinderella” at the school, with the help of students and faculty.
“It’s an interactive program,” explained music teacher Susie Lebensorger.
The performers are out of college and like apprentices to an opera company, Lebensorger said. “They provide the teaching material.”
Fourth-graders spent four weeks learning the choir parts during their music class. They played the role of mice. Lebensorger does not expect the students to emulate opera singers on stage. Rather, the experience gives the children exposure to another art form.
“Opera is a drama to be sung . . . by people with special training and education,” Lebensorger said.
She hopes the children will learn the components of an opera and be more knowledgeable when they are older and might decide to go to an opera on their own.
The “Cinderella” opera performed at Madison was written especially for elementary school students and condensed to 40 minutes for school settings and shorter attention spans.
“It’s just like more scenes and higher voices than regular plays,” Danny Hofmann, 11, who appreciated how the performers changed the scenery by lifting and turning fabric panels.
“There was more singing, instead of talking, noted 9-year-old Erin Milligan.
Nick Makris, 9, played the king and one of the mice in the opera. He said some of the scenes “were very amusing to a lot of people,” such as when Cinderella’s stepsisters danced with the prince to get his attention.
Fourth-grade teacher Sheryl Cebula and differentiation specialist Nancy Schifo gamely and with much enthusiasm played the parts of the stepsisters.
Ryan Cheslick, 10, liked how the pianist interrupted Prince Charming when he was becoming too long-winded to move the story along.
After the performance, the cast answered questions from the audience, such as how long they spent learning the opera and how they can change costumes so quickly.
Diana Stoic of Skokie, who played Cinderella, explained they used a technique called over-dressing, in which they dressed in layers, peeling off a layer to get to the next outfit they needed.
The puffy sleeves and sparkling skirt of Cinderella’s ball gown easily attached over her pauper clothes.
“My best friend is Velcro,” Stoic said.