Moltopera brought closer the world of opera to hundreds of German students in May, 2014. 13- to 16-year-olds were attending László Ágoston's fresh, interactive and youthful lectures in 5 schools in the Görlitz area supported by the European Union and Skoda Klische.
Students expected something worse in the beginning
The May of 2014 is gioing to be memorable for the members of Moltopera (László Ágoston General Manager, Renáta Göncz singer, András Emszt pianist and Renáta Burghardt executive) not just because of the successful artistic debut in the Saxon State Parliament, but also because of the first educational programme abroad. Organized by Moltopera Germany we have visited schools in Rothenburg, Görlitz, Niesky, Rauschwalde and Löbau during the projectweek.
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"As an upbeat we started every time with the well-known O mio babbino caro. The students were laughing, were shocked, shaking their heads - they expected 180 minutes of boredom. As I stepped on stage I assured them about my understanding: If I had been in their shoes I would have felt the same but I had not travelled 14 hours from Hungary to make them feel bad. I promised them an exciting and funny 180 minutes althought opera was going to be the topic." (László Ágoston)
"Act like an opera singer!"
The first 90 minutes' aim was to melt the hard stereotypes about opera. Can they enjoy a 300-year-old music? Does excitement or empathy exist between the strict frames of this genre? Is opera really about a fat lady who gets stubbed but sings on for 20 minutes? We might have given valid answers to these questions with our lectures full of videos and pictures as Moltopera is waited back to all of the schools in 2015...
Introduction to vocal technique
We faced many surprising facts and tricky situations during the week. They did not recognize the name of Luciano Pavarotti or know the Tom&Jerry cartoons and there were schools where nobody has attended to an opera performance ever. The most extraordinary was maybe when due to the renovation of the school's biggest auditorium we even had to give a lecture (about Don Giovanni!) in a cathedral-size church.
Death of the Commander with an altar in the background
The lectures were in Englsih but frequently summarized in German by Nils Matthiesen és Sarah Schubert, our hosts from Moltopera Germany.
Nils Matthiesen and Sarah Schubert
When we achieved that our audience did not think about opera with fear, rejection or even disgust came the Don Giovanni in the next 90 minutes. We showed with videos richly illustrated how false image a bad direction (not realistic, "parking and barking"-like) can provide even about such an exceptional opera. We analysed the first 4 minutes for 40 minutes presenting the deepness of characterization hidden in the music, the importance of barely audible musical signs, we looked behind the habits, motivations and acts of Giovanni, Anna and the others. Why a young donna runs after her offender if she didn't want the affair? Why should we beleive that a vulnerable young female can prevent by force a full-blooded, strong man from leaving when he is desperate to escape (illustration on the video above)? Then what should the director do? What is the obvious but hidden evidence of Donna Elvira's madness? Is the Great Womanizer a bad person or just a kind of personality? We were looking for answers for such questions and more - together, interactively, applying the tools of theatre pedagogy.
Don Giovanni dares anything to escape
In the last half hour also the students could show themseves on stage: we asked them to direct the La ci darem la mano-scene in pairs encouraging each other. They had better and worse ideas also, but they could get a clear image about the complexity of this genre, how many things a singer or a director have to take in consideration. One of the funniest ideas was when Zerlina was asked to jump on the back of Don Giovanni and quasi ride him out from the stage (check it out on the video above!).
The students also participated Moltopera's attitude research about the feelings and thoughts of the under-35-year-olds about opera. Three marginal comments on our survey gave us bigger reward than any official success. We did not ask anybody to evaluate our programme but in the blank surface unknown students messaged us:"It was a doozie!", "Thank you for coming!", "I have never been to opera - until now!"
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