On April 15 - 16, the Schwob School of Music will present the opera 'Cendrillon' (Cinderella) in Studio Theatre as part of their opera outreach programs for children.
The opera, written by Pauline Viardot, runs approximately 120 minutes and is an interactive children's theatre experience for all ages. "Our goal with our opera outreach programs is to instill a lifelong curiosity in the arts for children of all ages through opera," said Joshua May, Schwob School of Music's Director of Opera. "The salon-style opera features thirty-two students that are both undergraduate and graduate students studying at Schwob - many of whom are also music education majors."
May suggested that families revisit the Cinderella story before coming to the opera. "While Cendrillon is a French version of Cinderella, it is not exactly the same story," said May. "I like to say this production is 'Disney-lite.' It would be a fun exercise to see if our young audience members could point out the similarities and differences between the movie they know and the traditional folk story to their families."
The opera will take place in RiverCenter's Studio Theatre and has limited seating that will be offered on a first come, first served basis. "We've transformed Studio Theatre into a fairytale wonderland with a beautiful set and magical costumes," May explained. "The masked ball is especially wonderful - as the audience is challenged to discover which characters really value love, and who is who. We're looking forward to watching our local children enjoy this family-friendly show."
Schwob's production of Cendrillon has already been out in the community for awhile. During the program's outreach phase, May and his cast performed at Wynnton Academy and Clubview Elementary for over 400 students in grades Kindergarten through Fifth Grade.
"Many of our student teaching artists are also music education majors, so taking a show like this into the schools is a wonderful experience for everyone," said May. "Our students got the experience of performing in front of a large number of students, and then taught the children about the opera's different elements, instructed them on how to waltz, and even did some acting exercises with them."
Next week's performances will be free and open to the public, but there are only around 135 seats available for each performance. An overflow room will be available for other guests and children who need the freedom to move around and enjoy the show without having to sit the entire time. Schwob is also proud to offer special accommodations for children with special needs upon request.
May said the production experience has been delightful. "My incredible colleagues in the fine arts at Columbus State University have made this show an absolute pleasure because of their willingness to collaborate. When we can bring several departments together to produce something educational for the public, everyone wins. It's been wonderful to see everyone come together to put Cendrillon on the stage."
May and his team have worked hard to incorporate some fun elements for their children's artists into the show. "We've got some pretty spectacular magic horses that take Cinderella to the ball," he said laughing. "We also plan to offer Meet and Greet sessions with our cast after each show, so we encourage children to come dressed as their favorite prince or princess and stay to meet the cast and take a photo."
Schwob School of Music's Opera Outreach program will continue to grow and develop over the coming years. May said that his goal is to share the wonderful world of opera with as many children in possible in Muscogee County. "The arts are transformative for children," said May. "If we can change the trajectory of just one child's life by giving them exposure to opera and music, then our job is done."
For more information on Cendrillon or the Schwob School of Music Opera program, please visit music.columbusstate.edu or call 706-649-0878. ◼︎
If You Go:
What: Cendrillon (Cinderella) a family-friendly opera by Pauline Viardot
When: April 15 & 16 at 7:30 p.m.
Where: Studio Theatre, RiverCenter for the Performing Arts