Friday, August 17, 2012

Opera Girl has moved!


Dear readers, I have just left South Florida for the verdant hills of Oregon.  And I mean that quite literally, as I am currently looking out the living room window of a hilltop house, through the trees, at the college stadium all the way across town.  But I digress.  The point is that I will no longer be able to attend local performances in South Florida.  So what does this mean?  For starters, it means, obviously, that I will unfortunately not be reviewing those productions anymore.  It also means that my focus will shift to the small local opera company, and occasionally to some of the larger ones up and down the West Coast.  But I am still undecided about the fate of this site.  I don't know yet whether I will continue to write general posts here, or whether I will simply start a new page centered around opera in Oregon.  Either way, I will keep you posted.  In the meantime, keep enjoying that warm Florida weather, because I already need a jacket in the morning!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Exploring Artists: June Anderson


Welcome back, dear readers.  I must apologize for my recent absence, but a minor auto accident back in February has made sitting at a computer for extended periods of time a rather uncomfortable experience.  I am doing much better now, however, and I hope to continue to bring you lots of exciting information from the world of opera.  So today, I will continue our Exploring Artists series with one of the ladies from my childhood. 
As a teenager, and throughout much of my 20s, June Anderson was my favorite soprano.  To my ears, her voice was always a thing of beauty.  Yet recently I've found, more often than not, that when I mention her name, people look at me and say, "Who?"  I couldn't understand it, but then I realized that it has, indeed, been quite a bit of time since I heard her name mentioned by anyone else.  So for those of you  who are unfamiliar with her work, (and for everyone else, too,) here is a bit about June Anderson.
Ms. Anderson was born in Boston in 1952.  She began studying music as a child, and at age 17, she became the youngest artist to be named a finalist in the Metropolitan Opera auditions.  Her career, however, was not launched at that point, and she did not make her debut at the Met until 1989, when she sang the role of Gilda in Rigoletto.  Rather, she entered Yale University, where she graduated with a degree in French.  At that point, she embarked on her journey to become a singer, selecting law school as her fall-back in case she didn't make it.
Needless to say, Ms. Anderson never made it to law school.  She made her professional debut in 1978 with the New York City Opera, singing the Queen of the Night in Die Zauberflote, a role she would later supply the vocals for in that great movie, Amadeus.
Ms. Anderson spent several years in Europe, where she specialized in bel canto roles.  During this time, she performed works by Rossini, Bellini, and Donizetti, and was, in fact, the first non-Italian recipient of the Bellini d'Oro award.  Over the years, she met with great critical acclaim for her bel canto singing, and particularly for her portrayal of Lucia di Lammermoor.



During the 1990s, June Anderson began to expand her repertoire to include works of Verdi and Tchaikovsky, among others.  In 1995, she made her role debut as Desdemona in Verdi's Otello opposite Placido Domingo, in a performance I was extremely fortunate to attend.  I was in my final month of high school, and I skipped a week of classes to do the nineteen-hour-each-way drive to Los Angeles with my mother.  It was a stunning performance, and we had quite an adventure backstage afterwards, but that story is for another time.  Here is Ms. Anderson singing the Ave Maria from Otello in 2001.


Since then, I have seen her perform at least one other time, and possibly twice.  I was positive that I had seen her in Rigoletto, but now I'm not so sure.  At the same time, only today, I realized that I saw her role debut of Leonora in Il Trovatore in 1998.  She last performed with the Metropolitan Opera about ten years ago, and since then, she has added several new roles to her repertoire.  Last year, she took on the roles of Madame Lidoine in Dialogues des Carmelites, and of Salome.  Her latest addition came earlier this year, as she performed the role of Pat Nixon in Théâtre du Châtelet's production of Nixon in China.  She continues to perform in concerts and recitals across Europe, and has even participated in a musical cruise of the Mediterranean.
I will leave you now with a 1991 performance of Caro Nome.  I hope to see you all back here very soon.  Ciao for now!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Popera Singers: What is the role of Classical Crossover artists, or whatever you want to call them?

Most of my friends are not opera lovers.  It's not that they really dislike opera, it's just that they simply don't know.  "Opera?  You mean that fat lady with the horns?  Or do you mean Pavarotti?"  For most of the general public, this is all they know.  It's what mainstream popular culture tells us opera is.
Every now and then, when I converse with my non-opera-loving friends, our discussions turn to music.  And sometimes, one or another says something like, "Oh, I love Andrea Bocelli, and Sarah Brightman, too!  And how about that trio of teenage tenors, and Paul Potts?  And Jackie Evancho is absolutely amazing!  So, yeah, I guess I do like some opera!"

Now, after a statement like that, some more experienced opera lovers may be left scratching their heads and saying, "Huh?  Are you serious?  Have you ever even HEARD a real opera singer?"  I've seen many an online debate sparked by someone trying to compare Jackie Evancho to the likes of Renee Fleming.  And one time, my brother and I couldn't help bursting into raucous laughter when we walked past the music section in Target and saw a recording of Carmen starring Andrea Bocelli featured prominently in the Pop section, along with several other of his CDs.
Now, I could very easily join in with all the (sometimes good-natured) ribbing that often occurs at the expense of these artists.  Or I could point out that, while talent in its raw state may be present, only when Jackie Evancho hold her own with other singers on stage, be heard at the very back of a large opera house without the benefit of a microphone, and convincingly portray a role at the same time, can she ever be compared with Renee Fleming.  And, sure, I could have a lot of fun chuckling about these singers and their often rabid fan base.  But then I really think I would be missing the point of it all.
I mean, think about it.  Regardless of how you personally feel about crossover artists, actually stop and think about it.  Seriously.  I mean, there was a recording of CARMEN in the POP section!  Along with other opera-ish recordings!  Presented right there to the mainstream music audience, who might not even step foot in the classical aisle!

And that, right there, is the whole point I'm trying to make with all this.  These singers, while quite missing the mark for many of us, do play a vital role in the world of music.  They bring a taste of opera to millions of people who would otherwise never even give it a try.  And there is really no better illustration of this point than the talent shows that made many of these people famous in the first place.  I remember watching episodes of America's/Britain's Got Talent, with audiences full of average people, along with millions of national network TV viewers.  On those occasions, they often followed other musical acts, ranging from pop to rock, country to rap.  Then one or another of them would walk out onstage, open his or her mouth, and leave the audience absolutely astonished.  The next day, there would be headlines about this or that incredible talent that had just been discovered.  And each time, the singer continued through the competition to the very end, taking second place on the occasions where he or she did not actually win the whole thing.  And each time, it was mainstream audiences voting for their favorites who put these singers in the top spots.  People who were never exposed to opera before picked these artists as their favorites.  Many of those people have continued with independent exploration, and have thus arrived at the magical destination that is opera.  And those who haven't, have at the very least realized that opera is more than just a fat lady with horns.
 

Friday, May 4, 2012

I know I'm late, but..... A tribute to the winners of the Opera News Awards


Last weekend, Opera News Magazine celebrated five great contributors to the world of opera with its 7th Annual Opera News Awards.  The honorees included sopranos Karita Mattila and Anja Silja, baritones Dmitri Hvorostovsky and Peter Mattei, and director Peter Sellars.  While I would have loved to write a nice long piece about each one of them, a shortage of time renders that temporarily impossible.  So I will rather pay tribute to them here with samples of their works.

Karita Mattila has been wowing audiences since she won the first ever Cardiff Singer of the World competition in 1983.  Here she is in the Metropolitan Opera's recent production of Tosca.




Next up is Anja Silja, seen here in a 1968 performance of Fidelio.



Switching over to the men, we have another Cardiff winner, Dmitri Hvorostovsky, in his most recent portrayal of Giorgio Germont, which he just wrapped up at the Met earlier this week.



Next, Swedish baritone Peter Mattei gives us a taste of the lighter side of opera with his delightful rendition of Largo al factotum.



Finally, we have director Peter Sellars.  Normally, I would have posted a clip of his film of Don Giovanni, but seeing that I just posted it yesterday in an unrelated piece, I had to find something else.  So rather than showing another clip of something he directed, I decided to share a short interview that provides a bit of insight into his thought processes.



And there we have the five honorees of this year's Opera News Awards.  I hope you will join me in sending them a huge "Thank You" for everything they have put into their art.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Love them or hate them? What's your take on modern productions?

We've all been there before.  You purchase tickets to your favorite opera.  You get dressed up in your best evening clothes, and you arrive at the opera house nice and early.  You find your seat, and wait in excited anticipation for the moment when the opening strains of that glorious music finally reach your ears.  The lights go down, the conductor steps up to the podium, and the curtain rises on... Leporello, dressed as a chauffeur, driving a limousine made entirely of chairs.  And that's it.  That's the extent of the scenery.  Just chairs.  There's nothing else on stage, absolutely nothing, for the entire three hours.  You sit there watching the performance and enjoying the music regardless of the scenery (or lack thereof), but throughout the entire evening, a part of you is unable to focus on the opera because you can't stop wondering what on earth the director was thinking.
I saw that particular Don Giovanni at the age of fourteen or fifteen, at a well-known opera house that shall remain nameless.  And to this day, I can't figure out what the point of it was.  The memory brings to mind my four-year-old son making trains out of our dining room chairs.  Maybe there was some deep message there, and I just didn't get it.  Or maybe the director was just trying to be different.
Over the years, I have seen many performances with "just chairs" scenery, in opera houses from Seattle to Tel Aviv.  And the only one that has worked, at least for me, was the Metropolitan Opera's recent production of Eugene Onegin.  But maybe that was because those chairs actually belonged there, and the director was going for minimalist simplicity rather than cutting-edge who-knows-what.


Last night, I had the pleasure of attending the encore screening of La Traviata in HD from the Metropolitan Opera.  I had heard much discussion about the current production, which utilizes as its scenery an Ikea sofa and a giant clock.  When I first saw the promotional pictures about a year ago, my initial thought was, "Oh, you have got to be kidding me!"  But then people began talking about it, and the concepts intrigued me.  I listened with an open mind, and I went to the theater with quite a bit of curiosity about what I would see.  The scenery, of course, was no surprise, nor were the costumes.  What I was waiting to see were the emotional, psychological, and atmospheric effects this staging would have.  And I got it.  I understood what the director was doing, and in a way, it worked.  The production magnified Violetta's sense of isolation and despair in the midst of a sinister society that would completely consume her and cast her aside, easily replaced by the next girl to come along.  She is haunted throughout by her impending mortality and by the knowledge that she cannot escape her fate.  It was dramatically very effective, and yet I did not initially like it very much.  I tried to put my finger on what it was that I disliked, and I realized that I have spent my whole life seeking out and admiring the most realistic, historically accurate productions I could find.
This realization made me do a lot of thinking.  Even as I write this, I am reexamining my approach to modern productions of classic operas.  I understand that these operas that have been repeatedly performed over the past 200 years or so, often in very similar productions around the world,  occasionally need to be examined in a different light.  While I always feel that the music should speak for itself, fresh ideas and new perspectives have the ability to add so much depth to the operas we think we know so well.
Now there are, of course, all kinds of updates.  There are those that transport the opera to a different time period, often moving the action up a century or two in history; for example, a Carmen I once saw set in 1930s Spain, or that brilliant modern-day streets of New York-style Don Giovanni that Peter Sellars produced back in the early 1990s.



Then there are those productions that mix the old and the new, effectively removing the story from any specific time period, and thereby demonstrating the timelessness of these great works.  Then you have your varying degrees of minimalist, surreal, and postmodern production, some of which work better than others.  And of course, you have productions whose aim is to create controversy, such as Rusalka in a brothel and the so-called Brokeback Onegin.



So the question is this:  With a growing number of opera companies opting for modern productions over more traditional ones, how much is too much?  Should these traditional productions be preserved, or should they all be replaced?  And to what extent should opera be updated?  Do these new productions have to try to make some sort of point, or is it enough to just be different?  When some productions provoke thought and others leave us scratching our heads, where should the line be drawn?  For myself, I'm taking another look at my longstanding opinions.  Where do you stand?  I would love to hear your opinion! 

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Rigoletto is no slouch! A wonderful evening with Florida Grand Opera


Florida Grand Opera raised the curtain last night on Verdi's masterpiece, Rigoletto.  The evening's performance was a highly-anticipated event, and the opera house was packed with people eager to see this wonderful opera.  The air crackled with excitement as they filed in with high hopes, and they waited with bated breath for the lights to go down.  They were hoping for a very special show, and they were not disappointed.
As the music began, a spotlight came on in the center of the darkened stage, revealing a shirtless hunchback crouched over his jester's hat and scepter.  As the light revealed his deformed body, one could easily believe that the singer himself bore a hunch, so flawless were his prosthetics.  The rest of the costumes, as it soon became apparent, were no less well-done.  The scenery, too, was masterfully constructed, and helped to set the mood perfectly in every scene.  And without giving anything away, the audience was presented with a slightly unexpected take on the ending that was hair-raisingly effective. 
Musically speaking, the overall performance was very good.  There were a few opening night kinks that need to be worked out, such as several brief moments when the orchestra slightly overpowered the singers.  These moments, however, were the exceptions in an otherwise brilliantly performed work.  And while, at times, the tempo ran a bit faster than I personally prefer, it was more than made up for by the beauty and power of the singing.
The role of the Duke was sung by tenor Michael Fabiano, who makes his Florida Grand Opera debut with this production.  He fit the character perfectly with his youth and dashing looks, and his portrayal of the callous young nobleman was a perfect blend of seductive charm and heartless indifference.  Vocally, he gave an admirable performance, and while his was not always the largest of instruments, the beauty of his tone and brightness of his delivery made him an absolute pleasure to watch.



Baritone Mark Walters sang the part of the hunchback Rigoletto, a man torn by the double life he must lead in order to protect his daughter from the clutches of his hated employer, the womanizing Duke.  He delivers a poignant, heart-rending performance that grips the viewer from almost the first note.  Never before have I seen a Rigoletto who so effectively demonstrates the depths to which he is forced to stoop in the service of the Duke.  His voice is warm, rich, and powerful, easily filling the farthest corners of the hall with his full, intense tones.  Tender and loving one moment, bursting with rage the next, Mr. Walters created a powerful image of a man who will go to any lengths for his daughter.
And then there was Nadine Sierra, the soprano who sings the role of Rigoletto's innocent daughter Gilda.  The South Florida native was the real star of the show, with a light, beautiful, yet strong voice that soared gracefully above the orchestra.  Her delivery was nearly flawless and seemingly effortless.  Her Caro Nome was charmingly playful and sweetly endearing, and her delicately gorgeous tones were an absolute joy to experience.  Her final moments were filled with such tragic beauty that many in the audience were rendered speechless for quite some time after the final curtain.


Unfortunately, not all of the audience was rendered speechless during the actual performance.  As wonderful as the performance was, I would be remiss in my report of the evening if I failed to mention that last night's audience contained some of the least considerate opera-goers I have ever seen.  Aside from multiple conversations taking place in normal speaking voices during the music, no fewer than three cell phones rang in my general vicinity.  Two of those phones rang during Caro Nome.  One of those calls was actually answered, and the offender proceeded to carry on a phone conversation that lasted a good thirty seconds!  During Caro Nome!!!  I mean, this guy made the Marimba incident at the New York Philharmonic look like child's play!
But even that could not destroy the magic of the evening.  Florida Grand Opera's Rigoletto is at once beautiful, powerful, and heartbreaking.  The spell is cast the moment the music begins, and is not broken until after the final crashing notes.  South Florida opera lovers, do not miss this one!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

The swallow soars! La Rondine at Florida Grand Opera is a delight!

 Last night, Florida Grand Opera debuted La Rondine by Giacomo Puccini.  The evening marked the first time the company has produced Puccini's eighth opera, one of Puccini's least-known works.  La Rondine is performed so infrequently, in fact, that it was absent even from the stage of the Metropolitan Opera for 70 years.  So we have been given a rare treat in the form of this delightful opera!
After composing several tremendously successful operas, Puccini began to search for new source materials.  He was persuaded to write an opera in the style of Viennese operetta, and so La Rondine was born.  While it was originally commissioned for Vienna's Carltheater, the outbreak of World War I  forced the premiere to be moved to Monte Carlo.  It was well-received by audiences and critics alike, but as time passed, its popularity waned.  Today, the average opera-goer is usually only familiar with the famous aria, Ch'il bel sogno di Doretta.


La Rondine tells the story of a kept woman who meets and falls in love with a young man who has come to Paris.  After calling on her protector, he is sent to a local cabaret to spend the evening.  She later sneaks out, meets up with him there, and the pair move to the Riviera together.  When he writes home and receives permission to marry her, however, she realizes that her past would prevent such a marriage.  She reveals her true identity to him and returns to her protector in Paris, leaving him brokenhearted.
While La Rondine is rare for a Puccini opera in that nobody dies, Puccini (of course) couldn't leave well enough alone.  An alternate ending has the young man leave her when he discovers her past, and she drowns herself in the sea rather than return to her old life.  However, the first version is the most commonly accepted ending for the opera, and most productions end with every member of the cast still among the living.
Florida Grand Opera presents us with a sparkling, thoroughly charming production set in 1920s Paris, complete with a lively cabaret, vintage bathing costumes, and my personal favorite, lots of shiny stuff.  The scenery was lovely, and very well done.  While the dancing in Act II is integral to telling the story and setting the mood, however, I found it to be a bit too much.  At times it seemed to almost distract me from what I was actually there for: the opera.  At other times, though, I was completely caught up and swept away by the beauty of the music and the power of the principle singers.
The role of the young man, Ruggero, is sung by Portuguese tenor Bruno Ribeiro, who makes his Florida Grand Opera debut with this production.  He has a lovely, lush voice that easily reaches the back of the house.  He beautifully conveys the hopes and dreams of the young Ruggero, and when he is left alone at the end of the opera, the audience feels his heartbreak right along with him.


But the real star of the evening was Elizabeth Caballero, the Cuban soprano who sings the role of Magda, the "swallow" of the title who flies toward the sea to find love.  She was charming, graceful, and full of playful energy.  Her voice is rich and full, at times gentle and tender, and at times raw and torn with conflicting emotions.  Her rendition of Ch'il bel sogno di Doretta is among the most beautiful I have heard, and it earned her much well-deserved, rather enthusiastic applause.  Here she can be heard delivering this famous aria:


La Rondine was a new experience for me.  I was unfamiliar with most of the opera, with the exception of one aria and a couple of duets.  I was therefor not really sure what to expect.  It is, after all, one of Puccini's least-successful operas, and I assumed there must be a good reason for that.  Well, you know what they say about what happens when you assume.  Anyway, I found that my assumptions were incorrect, and while the story didn't grip me in quite the same way that most Puccini operas do, the music was absolutely lovely, and the evening thoroughly enjoyable.  I would strongly urge all lovers of grand opera to seize this rare opportunity and go to see La Rondine while they can.  It may be many years before we are again given the chance to experience this uncommon yet splendidly delightful opera.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Opera-tune-ists: Giacomo Puccini

Hello again, everybody.  First off, apologies for the relative silence on here recently.  Life does sometimes have a tendency to interfere with writing.  But be that as it may, here I am once again, back with a new bit of opera chatter.  And today, in celebration of Florida Grand Opera's opening of La Rondine this weekend, I will be writing about one of my favorite composers: Giacomo Puccini. 


Now, anybody who knows anything about opera will tell you that Puccini was a genius.  His operas are among the most frequently performed today.  In fact, you may be hard-pressed to find a single opera company, anywhere in the world, that does not include at least one Puccini opera every season.  But what is it that makes Puccini so popular?  Is it his beautiful, soaring melodies?  His incredibly romantic libretti?  The intense, often heart-rending drama?  Or is it the immediacy of his style, a style that often leads the viewer to forget that he or she is watching an opera rather than an action movie?  Well, the simple answer is, "yes!"  It is a bit of all of these, and every opera lover is drawn to a different element of his work.  My husband, for example, was particularly impressed with Rodolfo's suave, poetic pickup lines.  My brother blares Liu's delicate arias as he drives down the street with his windows open.  And I hang on the edge of my seat for the entire second act of Tosca, even though I already know exactly what's going to happen.  And when you put all of these elements together, the results are often magical!
When I decided to write about Puccini, I thought about what I might include here.  Do I talk about his personal history?  His influences?  His wonderful music?  After giving it some careful consideration, I decided to just start writing and see where it carries me.  After all, that is precisely what his music does: it carries the listener off into the world of the opera.  So I think that the best place to start, as an introduction to FGO's new production, is with the most well-known aria from La Rondine.



Okay, so here we have a beautiful aria.  It demonstrates Puccini's status as a master of gorgeous melody.  But what about the drama?  What about the gut-wrenching, nail-biting action I spoke of?  Well, here is the very scene I mentioned above, as sung by Bryn Terfel and Angela Gheorghiu.



And what of the poetry?  The romantic lyrics?  The beautiful words, and the music that reflects them?  Puccini's operas are full of these gorgeously amorous moments, and who is better suited to demonstrate them than his very own poet?




So here we have some of the most essential elements of Puccini's work: beauty, passion, and drama.  I know I really didn't get into those other things I mentioned, such as history and influence.  But for me, Puccini has always been purely about the art.  Any other discussion, to me, would be a distraction.  When I watch Puccini, I want to close my eyes and enjoy every note.  But I don't dare, because I don't want to miss a moment of what is happening on stage.  I don't want to think; I want to be swept away!  I want to be carried to 19th century Rome, or to Nagasaki, or to Peking!  And therein lies the pure genius of Puccini: with a note, he can carry you to any one of those far-off places and times.
And on that note, (no pun intended,) I will leave you with one final aria to sweep you away.


video

 
 


Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Opera birthday parties? Why not?!?

Hello again, everyone!  Welcome back from a rather extended holiday break!  The kids are all back in school now, and life can slowly start to return to normal.  Today, I am going to continue on the subject of passing opera on to the next generation.  I have heard a lot of chatter (or perhaps twitter?) over the last few weeks about ways to attract a younger audience.  Most of the talk seemed to be centered around the idea of so-called Tweet Seats.  While I very happily participated in last month's Tweet Seat session at Palm Beach Opera's Madama Butterfly, (a dress rehearsal, I should add,) I don't believe that simply letting people play on their phones during the performance is going to get them to want to attend.  Rather, honest exposure, ideally at a young age, whether at home or in school, is the surest way to spark interest in opera.
This, of course, is in no way a new idea.  I have said it before in previous posts, and I will doubtlessly say it again.  But today I am going to write about a (brilliant?) idea I had about one way of doing this.  Opera birthday parties!!!  Now, I know some of you may be scratching your heads and thinking that I must be crazy, but just hear me out! 




The idea came to me this morning, as I was trying to plan my son's ninth birthday party.  I was looking online at all the different options available in the area: bowling, arcades, science museums, even the local animal shelter!  There were a lot of venues offering sports parties, cooking parties, arts-and-crafts parties, and dance parties.  And then it occurred to me: Why not do opera birthday parties?  If one enthusiastic child chooses ten or twenty of his closest friends to share opera with, it could trigger a whole chain reaction of spreading an awareness (if not outright love) of opera to a group of children who might otherwise never give it a fair chance.
Now, how to do it?  I had some ideas there, too.  There are a couple of different options to be considered: the do-it-yourself party, which would require a bit of homework and planning on the part of the parents, and the party organized by a local opera company's Young Artists program, or some such organization.  "But wait a minute," you might say.  "There are no opera companies offering children's birthday parties!"  And you would probably be right.  But why shouldn't there be?  After all, almost every other type of theater, museum, and miscellaneous entertainment outlet offers several party packages.  And while I recognize that these other options may be more popular among children, it would be a wonderful experience for them if such a thing were available.




So here is what I propose to any opera company out there that may be reading this: give it a shot!  If no one takes you up on it, what have you lost?  And if they do, think of what you have gained: a doorway into the hearts of the next generation.  So what might an opera company offer as part of a party package?  Well, a package could include one or two young artists who would give a brief background of what opera is, followed by a short performance.  These performances could range from some of the more action-packed scenes for boys' parties to the more romantic ones for the girls' parties, or any combination of the two.  Afterwards, young party goers could be given the opportunity to participate in recreating the drama and singing the music.  Fancy foods and Martinelli's sparkling cider served in plastic champagne flutes could be served to add a celebratory feel to the event.  And at the end of the party, each child could go home with an opera-themed goody bag.
For the parents planning an opera party on their own, it might be a little trickier without the personal interaction with the singers and the hands-on music making.  But again, a brief overview of opera could be given, followed by a showing of an opera on DVD.  One possible opera to show a group of children who are new to it is Il Barbiere di Siviglia.  Most of them will probably have heard at least some of the music, the story is highly entertaining, and there is nothing in it that any parent could possibly consider to be objectionable material.  (Something like Tosca, on the other hand, might not go over so well with all of the parents.)  After the performance, the children could be given an opportunity to talk about their impressions of what they have seen.  Again, fancy foods and opera goody bags could tie the whole experience together.
Now, I'm not naive.  I know something like this might take some time to catch on, or it may never catch on at all.  But if nobody even tries, it certainly never will.  And with opera audiences getting older, opera education in the classroom and at home at a low point, and opera companies around the world struggling to bring in young people, something must be done to ensure the continued survival of opera for the next generation.  And what better way to pass it on than in a fun, exciting, and celebratory atmosphere?  Today's children, who think they have seen everything, can go home from an opera party with memories of a new and thrilling experience, and a thirst to discover more.