LSM Newswire

Monday, April 21, 2008

Pacific Opera Victoria's Opera-in-Schools program presents an opera

Elijah's Kite, a new opera by Canadian creators James Rolfe, composer, and Camyar Chai, librettist, examines the critical issue of bullying. Throughout the month of May, Pacific Opera Victoria will present Elijah's Kite to more than 7,000 students in 30 elementary and middle schools on southern Vancouver Island.

The opera is set in a playground full of kids, where nine-year old Elijah is lonely and frightened of Big Billy Brett, the school bully. Elijah brings his favourite kite to school and dreams of flying away. He soon meets Miriam, the new girl in school, who's not afraid of Billy, but she becomes a bully too and Elijah is once again on his own. By the end of the opera, the kids all learn how to turn something negative into something good, and discover that co-operation can make Elijah's kite fly.

Elijah's Kite, a co-production between the Manhattan School of Music and Toronto's Tapestry New Opera, premiered in New York City on April 9, 2006. It had its Canadian premiere in November 2006 at Rideau Hall in Ottawa for Governor General Michaˆ´lle Jean and an audience of school children. Since then it has been performed for thousands of kids across Ontario, and this production marks its West Coast premiere.

The opera was created in consultation with PREVNet (Promoting Relationships and Eliminating Violence Network), an active network of Canadian researchers, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and governments working together to promote safe and healthy relationships for all Canadian children and youth.

A study guide, developed by Katherine McKenney and Debra Pepler of York University in collaboration with Pat McCarthy, outlines classroom activities to animate discussion and build understanding about bullying, as well as about the role of arts and theatre in our lives.

In addition, Pacific Opera Victoria is working in partnership with the University of Victoria's Centre for Youth and Society, directed by Dr. Bonnie Leadbeater, to develop additional teacher training and classroom resources for the Elijah's Kite school tour. The two organizations hosted a workshop for local educators on Wednesday evening, April 9, 2008, to discuss the opera and its relevance to teachers and students in elementary and middle schools. A second workshop will be held on April 30.

The tour of Elijah's Kite marks the beginning of a new approach to POV's in-school programming. "Our Opera-in-the-schools program will deliver in three key areas", notes David Shefsiek, Pacific Opera Victoria's Executive Director. "It will support educators in their work in the classroom, demonstrate how the arts can highlight relevant issues that affect our lives, and continue to engage children in the power of opera."

The Victoria Foundation's Vital Signs report shows that 30.5% of 18 year olds in the province do not graduate high school. Through the themes of Elijah's Kite, Pacific Opera Victoria hopes to make a contribution toward engendering a more hospitable environment in our classrooms and

Elijah's Kite features five pre-professional opera singers from Vancouver Island, and three musicians (piano, bass and percussion). The Opera-in-Schools tour forms a large part of POV's Young Artist Program, which also offers professional and career development opportunities to the five singers, with coaching and classes by vocal coaches Theresa Turgeon and Kathleen Brett, director and choreographer Jacques Lemay, and others.

Elijah's Kite Company

Stage director: Alison Greene
Music director: Giuseppe Pietraroia
Stage designer: Ian Rye
Stage manager: Steve Barker
Cast: Isaiah Bell, Michaela Dickey, Aaron Ferguson, Kathryn Humphries and Tamara Rusque
Musicians: Susu Robin, Kelby MacNayr and Sean Drabitt

Pacific Opera Victoria's school tour is made possible with the generous support of RBC Foundation, our Education Underwriter, TELUS, our Youth Programs Sponsor, and the Canada Council for the Arts Supplementary Operating Funds Initiative. Tour sponsors include Success by 6, the Centre for Youth and Society, RBC Dominion Securities, the Victoria Foundation, the Anne McLaughlin Fund, and the Hamber Foundation. Transportation Sponsor is Budget Car and Truck Rental.

For more information about Pacific Opera Victoria, and the Opera in Schools program, visit or call 250-382-1641. Designated school representatives interested in a performance of Elijah's Kite may contact Pacific Opera Victoria at 250-382-1641.

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