I think it would be safe to say that most parents are a little hesitant about taking a six-year-old to see the opera. I know I certainly was. My daughter is a normal princess-loving six-year-old (as opposed to some precocious prodigy who is wise beyond her years) and I was unsure if she would be able to sit still, understand the story, or appreciate the music. We recently attended the opera “The Firework Maker’s Daughter”, which is two hours long and recommended for 8-year-olds and up and I am happy to report that my daughter not only sat still during the show, but also loved the music and the singing and was able to appreciate a type of show she is not familiar with.
As I mentioned before, I had some concerns before seeing the opera with her but as soon as it started I realized why it’s an opera for kids: the shadow puppetry really makes the show! Almost every single number had shadow puppetry, and done in a very clever way. This unique style, which is done with various projectors, adds another dimension to the story. The story itself was simple, but the plot intricate. I can’t say that my daughter understood every single thing that was going on, but she got the gist of it and she really enjoyed the music and the operatic singing by the different performers, which she has not been exposed to at home or elsewhere before.
The story of The Firework Maker’s Daughter is based on a book by Philip Pullman, the writer of “Northern Lights” which was turned into the movie “The Golden Compass”. Lila wants to be a firework maker, just like her father, but he is against it because she is a girl. She goes on a journey to prove her capabilities along with her friend, Hamlet, who is a talking elephant, and Chulak, his caretaker. The humorous story is full of magic, fantasy and imagination and the talented cast has incredible voices that are operatic, yet clear enough so that the words are understood. Indeed, I’m used to opera in a foreign language so it was nice to be able to understand the words and know what the characters are talking about.
The 5-person cast all had a pretty wide range of voices. Lila. the only woman, is a Soprano, while the men are Bass-Baritone, Baritone, Tenor and Countertenor. Countertenors usually sing in a falsetto, which may explain why my daughter insisted that the countertenor in this opera, who was the character of the elephant, was a woman. I tried pointing out that he is actually a man but she just could not understand the concept of a man singing in such a high voice. Regardless, she enjoyed the show and asked to go see an opera again. And I was relieved of my worries and happy to see my daughter discover yet another form of art to enjoy.
Here’s a video about the opera:
When: Through May 12th, 2013
Where: The New Victory Theater
209 West 42nd Street, Between 7&8 Avenues, New York
Price: $14-$38 per person
To Purchase Tickets click here.
To purchase by phone call (646) 223-3010
Box office is open Sunday & Monday 11am-5pm; Tuesday-Saturday 12pm-7pm
All photos by Robert Workman
I was not compensated for this post. I received tickets to the show.