Kids’ Corner

Did you know that some of the most popular scenes in operas are ones that feature young people?

Sometimes a child is at the very heart of the story, such as in Gian-Carlo Menotti’s Christmas classic, Amahl and the Night Visitors. It’s about a crippled boy who meets the three wise men as they journey to find the baby Jesus.

A very young boy or girl plays the son of Cio-Cio-San, the abandoned Japanese woman in Giacomo Puccini’s Madama Butterfly. It’s a non-speaking role, but there is a ton of stage time, and he often steals the scenes.

Three kids have a great time playing spirits in Wolfgang Mozart’s The Magic Flute. Not only do they get to fly through the air (magic!), but the three of them sing, explaining things to their older (but not wiser) adult friends.

Want to know more? A Metropolitan Opera blog post from 2013 details, with some photos, all the operas its 40-child chorus was appearing in that season. You’ll see a picture of the three spirits.

Sometimes youngsters are part of a children’s chorus that adds sparkle to an opera. Children’s choruses are featured in well-known works like Georges Bizet’s Carmen (click here to see pictures of Opera Wilmington’s kids in action in the 2017 production of Carmen), Puccini’s La Boheme and Tosca (he must really have liked having children onstage!), and Englebert Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel.

Disappointingly for all you aspiring young singers, the roles of Hansel and Gretel are played by adults,* but there is a chorus of children who sing of their delight in being released from the wicked witch’s spell at the end.

*The role of Hansel is a “pants role.” You’ll learn more about what that means in a future post on this page, so stay tuned!

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