Most baby boomers got their first introduction to opera through Bugs Bunny or Tom and Jerry. Sadly, the younger generation doesn’t have the same exposure to the classic cartoons of yesteryear, so they need a new way to be exposed to the riveting strains of Figaro.
Elementary and high school kids alike from San Jose, Cupertino, Santa Cruz, and Los Altos had their chance this week. Hundreds of them crammed the California Theater for a Wednesday morning matinee performance of Rossini’s opera buffa “Barber of Seville” by Opera San José. For many, it was a whole new approach to musical theater, familiar but very different from what they see on Glee.
“I really like it,” said one 11-year-old from San Jose’s Jeanne Meadows Elementary School. She and her friends even laughed at the jokes—thankfully, the Italian libretto was projected in translation above the stage.
The program, sponsored by Arts Express, has brought over 150,000 students to the opera since 1978. The program is funded by the City of San Jose and various local groups devoted to the arts. While many of the students at yesterday’s performance went home to hip hop and Justin Bieber, there’s no reason why they can’t enjoy both … or perhaps even be creative and merge the various musical genres.