This program is made possible by grants from the Jerome Mirza Foundation and the Illinois Arts Council Agency, an Agency of the State of Illinois.
We are thrilled to announce we are resuming our LIVE tour of our annual children’s opera! We will be touring local schools and other venues throughout the month of May giving local school children the opportunity to experience the fun, excitement, and joy of live music in a format that is accessible and relatable to their age group.
2023 CHILDREN’S OPERA: PANIC IN THE BARNYARD
Four animal friends keep the barnyard humming every happy minute of every happy day. Life is good for these stick-together pals. Well, except for that one thing. The Wicked Weasler is skulking around outside the picket fence with–gasp–barnyard gumbo on his mind. His plan is to break up these tight-knit pals so he can pick them off, one by one. He begins by spreading rumors and lies. Sure enough, before long the sheep mistrusts the goat, the duck goes rogue, and the pig packs his bags. When it’s just almost completely too late, the barnyard animals realize they were safer, stronger, and happier together, as a team of friends. Can they find their way back before it’s too late? Maybe, maybe not. Watch out! The fire is lit and the pot is boiling.
At its heart, this operatic romp explores knowing what to believe, telling the truth even when it’s hard, and how we are stronger together. Audiences get to participate in this fun, fast-paced, heartfelt, and gloriously musical story.
CHILDREN’S OPERA TOUR: MISSION & HISTORY
Part of Prairie Fire Theatre’s mission is to introduce local school children to classical music, such as opera. Toward that end, for almost 20 years, Prairie Fire Theatre has produced an annual children’s opera. In recent years, PFT has toured 40-50 schools and other venues and performed for approximately 10,000 children and adults annually.* Each children’s opera includes a cast of 4-5 singers (mostly local college students) plus a music director/pianist. To give the children an authentic theatrical musical experience, a portable set is designed and built by local set designers. The actors and staff move and “rebuild” the set, along with various props, at each school.
Since 2011, PFT has commissioned talented local author Nancy Steele Brokaw to write an original children’s opera. Ms. Brokaw develops a child-oriented story and then adapts the lyrics of classical arias by composers like Mozart and Gilbert and Sullivan to fit the story line. Each children’s opera contains a message or theme, such as caring for the environment, being kind to others, putting yourself in someone else’s shoes, and “different can be good”. The performers engage the children throughout the performance by getting them to chant, cheer or boo the “bad guy”. Teachers are provided with a curriculum packet that includes activities and ideas for teaching the opera to a variety of age groups.
To see a clip of a children’s opera rehearsal, visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hh0vxt282Bo
*During the Covid pandemic, due to health and safety restrictions the children’s opera was videotaped and distributed to local schools, allowing the schools to show the video whenever and in whatever format best suited their school’s situation.