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July 25, 2013

Children get the chance to participate in opera performance

By Meghan McCaffrey Contributing Writer
Cooperstown Crier

---- — The children’s production, “little match girl passion” premiered Saturday at the Glimmerglass Opera House.

The children have been rehearsing rigorously all summer with Tracy Allen, the new children’s chorus master, and Francesca Zambello, artistic and general director.

“They have worked very hard,” Allen said.

This marks Allen’s first year serving as the children’s chorus master, but she said she has been working with the chorus for the past three years as an assistant.

This year there are 24 boys and girls in the chorus, which is a much higher number than the typical nine to 12 children, Allen explained.

“Having 24 kids is very exciting,” Allen said. “And to have them work with all of the professionals here is really exciting for them.”

Allen said that it is a great learning experience for young children to work with the caliber of professionals that work at the Glimmerglass Opera House.

“What better way to learn about the theater than to participate in it?” Zambello said in a press release from Glimmerglass.

The children began rehearsing the music once a week in May, Allen said. But, the rehearsals became much more intensive once school ended. Until the premiere of the production, the students were meeting five to six days a week, Allen added.

Allen said the choir was much like an honor’s chorus, and because of that, the students were able to embody the emotion of the music.

“They’re the best from their schools,” Allen said. “The music is very difficult and they have embraced it and really made it a special experience.”

The children range in age from 8 to 18 years old. There are several local children in this production, four from Cooperstown, one from Cherry Valley and two from Milford including the lead, Victoria Munro.

“David’s revised orchestration will allow for such great opportunities for children in the Cooperstown area, and I could not be more pleased,” Zambello said in a press release from Glimmerglass.

“Little match girl passion” is an adaptation of a Hans Christian Andersen story about a girl who sells matches on New Year’s Eve hoping to make enough money to survive, Allen explained. This one-act is an adaptation of that story with a musical score revised for children’s voices.

“So much of the power of the story for adults comes from our projecting ourselves into the suffering of this one child,” David Lang, the stage writer and composer of the piece, said in a press release from Glimmerglass. “Children’s voices will make that projection so much more powerful.”

Allen said the little match girl visualizes scenes of Christmas and of her grandmother.

“She imagines her grandmother carrying her off to heaven,” Allen said. “It’s really very moving.”

Allen said she anticipates that when people come to see this production, “there’s not going to be a dry eye in the house.”

“Little match girl passion” will be coupled with another show, Pergolesi’s “Stabat Mater” to create a production titled “Passions.” To find out more about the productions at the Glimmerglass Festival this season and for show times and dates go to Glimmerglass.org.