from Inside Indy Terrace July 2020 Edition

In the last issue of Inside Indy Terrace, we introduced “Opera on the Spot,” Austin Opera’s fun and interactive online program launched to digitally connect with students, arts educators, and their families. Since then, both Teaching Artist Julie Silva and Director of Education Debra Erck have been busy as the popularity of the offering grows.

If you’ve ever filled in “Mad Libs,” you are familiar with the popular interactive element of “Opera on the Spot.” A summer road-trip favorite, “Mad Libs” is a shell of a story that is completed (often hilariously) when the user provides random nouns, verbs, adjectives, or adverbs in corresponding blanks. In Austin Opera’s version, the Teaching Artist brings them to life. Julie Silva sends participants a fill-in-the-blank questionnaire ahead of each “Opera on the Spot” presentation. After performing a famous aria live in its original form, she translates a section of the piece into English and replaces words in the text with the suggestions from the questionnaires, essentially composing a new aria from each student’s story!

“‘Opera on the Spot’ really sparked girls’ interest as they heard their own stories come to life in song,” says Michelle Chan-Thomson, Program Specialist with Girl Scouts of Central Texas. “The Austin Opera events have made this artform approachable, understandable, and accessible for kids.”

To date, more than 225 young people have participated in an “Opera on the Spot” program, through eight virtual presentations. Most recently, Austin Opera collaborated with the Andy Roddick Foundation to provide a “virtual field trip” experience for over 60 students in their Summer Camp program. The program was enhanced to include the opportunity for students to write actual stories that Austin Opera teaching artists “produced” with music and puppetry.

Brigid Mejia, Senior Program Manager for the Andy Roddick Foundation, wrote of their “Opera on the Spot” program on July 3: “That was AMAZING!!!! Thank you so much for such a wonderful and GREAT experience! The kids were so proud to see their stories and you worked so hard to make it extra special for the kids.”

Plans to expand the program for the 2020-2021 school year are underway.

Perhaps Michelle said it best: “Austin Opera has been an excellent partner for offering virtual programs to our Girl Scout members…When I work with Austin Opera, I’m confident that we will have a quality event. Thank you!”

Watch a trailer for “Opera on the Spot” below!