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NIU’s summer camp lures children to opera

July 5, 2011

Opera usually does not excite children, but a performance of Stone Soup during NIU’s summer opera camp sparked the zeal of a dozen elementary and middle school students.

During the camp, students not only learned the story behind Stone Soup, but they studied it, rehearsed its lines and performed it for parents and its composer, Philip Seward.

“The performance was the culmination of the week-long camp,” said Deborah Booth, director of External Programs for the College of Visual and Performing Arts. “The students started the week not knowing what to expect. By the end of it, they could not wait to perform it.”

In between the beginning and end of the week, students spent hours honing their acting talents, sharpening their singing voices, and mastering their diction.  They also designed their costumes and built the set, with the help of parent and artist Sophia Varcados.

“It was hard because we had to memorize all the words but it really paid off. We got to do the performance, and we got to meet the writer,” said  Katherine Hagaman, a  DeKalb resident who attends Clinton Rosette Middle School.

The opera was held the week of June 13 in the NIU Music Building.  It was directed by Mary Lynn Doherty, assistant professor of music education and director of the CSA Children’s Choir, which rehearses weekly throughout the school year.