Portland Opera To Go completed its 2011 winter tour in March 2011. During the tour, more than 11,000 children in 37 schools across Oregon enjoyed an English-language production of Rossini's Elixir of Love and in-class residencies. Study guides, designed for teachers with little formal arts training, provide approved lesson plans bench-marked to Oregon Department of Education learning guidelines.
The program works to reach out to under-served schools and communities. Sixty percent of schools visited were in rural Oregon counties including Clatsop, Tillamook, Wasco, Deschutes, Jefferson, Union,Yamhill and Baker to name a few. Forty-seven percent of schools visited were Title I schools and sixty-five percent of children receiving services were in free or reduced lunch programs--an indicator of poverty.
In addition, Portland Opera To Go spent a week-long residency at Eastern Oregon University in Union County, working with University in collaboration with the community adult and children's chorus to present a benefit for local arts organizations. The highlight of the evening was a fully-stage performance of the second-act restaurant scene from Puccini's La Boheme. We also partnered with McMenamins to bring free, family friendly evenings of Elixir of Love, along with a 50-minute cabaret of opera and Broadway hits, to eight McMenamins venues throughout Oregon and S.W. Washington. These additional outreach performances served more than 5,000 people.
Here are samples of what parents and teachers had to say about this year's outreach:
Could you please pass along my compliments to Ms. Hamilton and the other performers for the terrific Opera To Go program my 8-year-old daughter and I saw at the Crystal Ballroom last night? The educational portion of this particular program was great, the singers were wonderful, and my daughter announced, unequivocally, that we MUST see it again at the Kennedy School and bring her big sister and some friends. --Karen O'Connor Kruse, Parent at McMenamin's performance.
I wish these questionnaires could express the excitement of the teachers and students after your amazing team came! Fifth grade boys commented on how much they enjoyed it. A first grade boy determined that he wants to be an opera singer when he grows up!" --Ramona Harwood, music teacher, Colonel Wright Elementary, The Dalles, OR
And finally, and maybe most significant, is what we hear from children after they have experienced POGO’s Elixir of Love: "Who knew opera was awesome?" - 6th grader; "I loved it and I didn't think I would but I did!" - 3rd grader; "I liked the big notes...can you come over again??!!” - 1st grader; "I learned what Bravo il tutti means and that it is fun to say it!" - 4th grader; "I loved it and want to go to operas now!" - 5th grader.