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FSU Opera Visits Local Classrooms

Leon County elementary students enjoy a performance of "Abrazo de oso" presented by FSU Opera.

Florida State University’s Opera Outreach program recently completed its annual tour to local elementary schools, presenting Abrazo De Oso (Bear Hug) to young audiences. This bilingual opera, inspired by a cherished children’s book, features the rhythm and fun of zarzuela and filled school cafetoriums with energy and laughter.

Abrazo De Oso is the story of four bears from different backgrounds who learn how to be friends despite their differences. Children were enthralled by its heartwarming narrative emphasizing respect and inclusivity.

“Our differences make the world a beautiful place and kindness brings us all together,” says Stage Director Amy Helms. “The opera teaches children to embrace individuality and to show compassion towards others.”

Students from FSU Opera were the stars of the show, dedicating their time and talent to impart the joy of opera to elementary school students. They did everything from unloading the trailer to building the set to dancing around in bear suits. Teacher preparation set the stage for an experience that we hope will leave a lasting impression on both performers and audience.

Introducing opera to young audiences can supplement the traditional classroom experience by inspiring creativity, artistic expression, and cultural exploration. Whether or not the children become opera fans, these performances will be a part of their musical education and supplement the instruction that music teachers, often stretched thin by limited time and funds, do their very best to provide.

“We have been performing at local schools at no cost for over twenty years,” says Professor Matthew Lata, who supervises the program. “Not only do we do our best to serve our community but we significantly increase the performance experiences available to FSU singers, who use them to further their education and build their resumes. It’s a win-win-win situation. Never mind that we’re unloading scenery early on a chilly January morning…it’s fun. Just look out at the kids in the audience.”

As the echoes of Abrazo de Oso lingered in the hallways of local elementary schools, they left behind a symphony of laughter, curiosity, and newfound appreciation for the world of opera. The dedication of volunteer student vocalists, the enthusiasm of the children, and the educational resonance of the performances collectively contributed to an outreach initiative that transcended entertainment, leaving an indelible mark on the hearts and minds of young audience members.

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