Sara Brooks talks about the children’s chorus for Turandot

Puccini’s Turandot exists on a very grand scale. Not only is the work’s orchestration very large, but it calls for 11 principals and a full adult chorus. To all of this, Puccini adds a chorus of unchanged children’s voices (an element not often found in operatic tales as dark as this particular one!).

When asked to prepare the children’s chorus for OLO’s production, I truly had no concept as to the amount of young talent that the Ottawa area has to offer. The task of meeting and hearing many talented choristers, but selecting only 16, was indeed a difficult one. In the end however, these voices, ranging in age from 8 to 14, joined together for a first look at the score in early May.

By our second meeting, it was clear to me that these young musicians were more than up to the task ahead of them. Musicality, mastery of Italian pronunciation, acting and movement – not a problem! Nothing could stump these kids. (Even a stuffy rehearsal room resulting from the humidity of mid-June didn’t diminish their enthusiasm or work ethic!) Likewise, the parents and guardians of our choristers have been extremely supportive of this project; their enthusiasm has been simply contagious!

Our children’s chorus for 2010 is made up of students with a variety of musical experiences, including work within the Ottawa Children’s Choir, the Christ Church Cathedral Girl’s Choir, and past Opera Lyra productions such as the Magic Flute (2009). Four of our choristers also have parents in the 60-voice adult chorus, providing a unique experience for both parent and child.

And so after two months of musical rehearsals, our Opera Lyra children look ahead to the intensity of the staging rehearsal. “Bring it on!” they say. Give them costumes, make-up, stage, and lights; they’re more than ready for the entire experience.

Sara Brooks

Assistant Chorusmaster, Opera Lyra Ottawa

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