Florida Grand Opera is seeking South Florida middle and high school students to enjoy opera performances. FGO’s HOPE (Having an Opera Experience) is an educational program that provides tickets and transportation to over 5,000 Miami-Dade and Broward County students to experience the thrill of live opera for each of three final mainstage dress rehearsals or opening nights throughout the season. Schools can apply to receive free bus service (availability is limited by available funding).
“It is monumentally important that we get kids exposed to opera early and often, because it really is such an all-encompassing art form,” says Lauren Frick, Florida Grand Opera’s Education Coordinator. “Through opera we experience music, language, history, art, science, theater, culture, interpersonal relationships, and the list could continue on and on. I’m very proud of our work and dedication to have more and more students in Miami-Dade and Broward Counties discovering the magic, and finding the relevant connections that opera can have in their life year after year. If you are an educator who has never taken advantage of this opportunity, I encourage you to jump in with both feet, and help orchestrate a new world of creativity and possibility for your students.”
In the 2023-24 season, schools have the opportunity to bring their students to three performances: Verdi’s La traviata, Leoncavallo’s I pagliacci, and Puccini’s La bohème. They will attend final dress rehearsals at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts in Miami or opening night at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts in Fort Lauderdale.
“The Florida Grand Opera HOPE Program has been life-changing for my students,” says Stephanie Hurst, a teacher at Youth Co-Op Preparatory School. “We have attended this program for the past two years, and the opportunity has turned my students into opera aficionados. As a Title I school, many of my students have recently arrived to the USA and most of them lack the resources to access a cultural program such as this. I have turned around in my seat at the Ziff Ballet Opera House at the Arsht Center to see my students moved to tears and viewing these marvelous performances with their mouths hanging open. There is no way to quantify what this opportunity has meant to my students. Parents have told me that they never dreamed that their child would be able have such a rich cultural experience at such a young age. It truly means the world to my students.”
The opera experience includes a Q&A with staff members at intermission, a free souvenir playbill, and a souvenir silicone bracelet. At the Broward Center, participants may also attend a free pre-performance lecture and a post-show talkback with staff and special guests. Each school also has the option of a free in-school opera preview by a member of the artistic staff. The staff member will travel to the school for a special presentation including a synopsis of the opera, theater and opera etiquette, historical relevance, production elements, vocal categories, and composition style. Each presentation is carefully tailored to the students’ needs and ages.
“My students saw the Gianni Schicchi/Buoso’s Ghost double bill last year and they thoroughly enjoyed the story, the singing and the acting,” says choir director Alex Toussaint of Hialeah High School. “To this day, they still quote ‘O Dio’ in a dramatic way whenever something inconvenient happens in class. They cannot wait to see more shows this season. I want to thank FGO immensely for their commitment to student outreach in our school district and helping schools come see these shows.”
The HOPE program has been made possible with the support of the Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs, the Cultural Affairs Council, the Mayor, and the Miami-Dade County Board of County Commissioners, as well as the Broward County Cultural Division, the Florida Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs, and the Janet Trager Salz Charitable Trust. Additional funding for this programming has been received from Funding Arts Network (FAN) and The Community Foundation of Broward has provided support for FGO’s Youth Education programming.
Schools interested in participating in FGO’s HOPE program should contact Lauren Frick by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 786-438-2717.