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Get your Kids to like Opera Magic Flute

If you wish to get your children interested in opera, first consider your motivations. Do you love opera yourself, or do you merely feel obligated to give your children some “culture”? Children will pick up on your motivations. If you are excited about opera, they are more likely to realize that the art form is worth their time and interest.

Seek out light, comic operas, preferably in English or sung in English translation, to get children started. Young children will get frustrated by subtitles, and they will find the slow-moving plots of tragic operas such as Aida and Carmen tedious no matter how beautiful the music is. Gilbert and Sullivan operas, such as The Pirates of Penzance and HMS Pinafore, are always a good choice; they’re light, funny and fast-moving, which will keep children entertained. Mozart comedies such as The Magic Flute, when sung in English, are also very accessible for children.

Another benefit of the operas previously mentioned is that they, like many comic operas (and some tragic operas), have spoken dialogue. This offers children a break from the constant singing, and helps divide the opera’s numbers into separate and individual pieces, rather than the continuous melody of composers like Wagner and Verdi. Such a structure makes it easier to find a stopping point if children get bored or simply need a break.

Don’t start with recordings; children will be more interested if they can see the characters and follow the plot. Be careful, though-all video recordings are not created equal! Even if there is nothing in the plot that may be inappropriate for children, one can never underestimate the inability of stage directors to stick to something resembling these plots. Read many reviews and make sure you know what you’re getting into. There are at least two video recordings of The Magic Flute in English which are good for children: the first is an abridged production performed at the Metropolitan Opera House in 2006 (and repeated live every December, for those who live in and around New York City), with bright and colorful staging by Julie Taymor; the second is a movie directed by Kenneth Branagh which sets the story in a fantasy version of World War I.

You must also learn about opera yourself: its history, styles and aesthetics of musical expression. When your child asks why the music in opera sometimes has a distinct melody and sometimes does not, be ready to explain the difference between aria and recitative. When they ask why the heroine always sings so high, make sure you know something about the historical preferences for high singers and how the stock characters of opera are generally assigned their voice parts.

Always listen to your child’s feedback. Ask them what they like and dislike about the operas they’ve seen-and try to use those to recommend another opera they might like. If they have questions you can’t answer, help them research the subject themselves. Don’t push them; nothing ruins a child’s interest in a subject more than knowing the activity is required. But be open, helpful and passionate, and eventually your children might develop a love of opera, too.

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