Students do comic operas

Published 12:00 am Thursday, December 9, 1999

Alden-Conger students have found the best way to learn about opera is to write one themselves.

Thursday, December 09, 1999

ALDEN – Alden-Conger students have found the best way to learn about opera is to write one themselves.

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As part of their elective humanities class, students split into two teams to write and perform their own comic opera, or &uot;Opera Buffa,&uot; this week.

According to teacher Sharon Astrup-Scott, the student works needed to exemplify both the aria and recitative portions of an opera. The 11th- and 12th-graders created their own plots within the last week, and performed them Monday.

&uot;We wanted this to be a fun type of thing,&uot; she said. &uot;We tried to keep it upbeat.&uot;

At the same time, she said, they learned the terminology and some of the high points. &uot;I’ve tried to expose them to the composers and some of their best-known works, like Handel’s ‘Messiah’ and ‘Water Music’ to Bach and his ‘Brandenburg Concertos’ and minuets.&uot;

Scott said the idea of writing operas came as the class began to study the Baroque Period, which is the birth of opera.

&uot;It was something we could do, and the timing was right,&uot; she said.

The first team’s plot involves a young woman taking her dog for a walk in the park. The dog grows jealous of her master’s attention to a family of ducks, and kills the mother. Then she attacks her master, who goes to the doctor for medical attention and ends up falling in love with the doctor. Finally, during a walk in the park, they discover the dog eating the mother duck, banish her, and adopt the orphan ducklings.

The team included Melissa Scrabeck, Emily Brummer, Linda Calderon, Jenny Boettcher, Andrea Swanson, Dan Opdahl, Emily Krogsgaard and Holly Haines.

Krogsgaard said the hardest part was coming up with a plot, and scrapped two or three before settling on this one.

The second team’s plot involves a mother with a small baby called off to work in an emergency. She leaves the baby with her two older children, who are busy playing. They go to check on the baby and don’t see her in the crib. They call their grandmother and the police, then finally the discover the baby’s been there all the time.

Team members were Karen Martinson, Nathan Wilder, Monica Ignaszewski, Michelle Enser, Amanda Enser and Kay Sorensen.

Sorensen said the team’s biggest challenge was getting everything to rhyme.

&uot;We wanted it to be true to what opera is,&uot; she said. &uot;It was hard, but pretty fun.&uot;

This is the first year Alden-Conger has had a humanities class. The one-semester class includes one quarter of arts and one quarter of music study. Mary Sparks Johnson taught the arts portion of the class.