A national initiative to empower high schoolers to pursue their interests in opera, share opera learning with others and leverage the power of opera to serve local communities.

Are you a high schooler interested in opera, willing to learn more and ready to be a part of a national movement? Join Opera Teens and share the goodness of opera with your generation and beyond!

@OPERAAmerica | #OperaTeens

Council Corner

Get Started

Tips for How to Organize and Grow Your Council
Ready to start an Opera Teens Council? First, be sure that you’ve registered your group. After that, check out the tips below that will help you get your Council off to a running start!

Mission Statement — The Purpose of Your Council
Why do you exist? No, we don’t mean as a person. That’s a much larger question that you can grapple with for the rest of your life. What we mean is why does your Opera Teens Council exist? Or, to put it in corporate American terms, what is your mission? A short, well-written mission statement can help you quickly and easily explain your Council to potential members and supporters, as well as keep your Council focused.

How to write a good mission statement:
  1. Keep it short (think one to two sentences).
  2. Use verbs. Don’t just describe who you are — be sure that it’s clear what you are doing.
  3. Take a look at this example. You may adapt it or adopt it if you wish!
    Our mission is to learn together about opera, raise awareness of the art form and give back to our communities.
Scheduling — When and Where to Meet
  • When should you meet? Good question! This is really up to you. To be an official Council, we just ask that you plan at least three events between September 2015 and August 2016. But you are welcome to meet more often! OPERA America offers national events in which you may become involved, and Opera Teens will also explore Operas of the Month. You might want to plan your own gatherings around these events.
  • Where should you meet? There are several potential places where you might be able to meet. Consider these possibilities:
    1. School: Talk to a teacher to see if you can be an official school club. You will likely need a teacher to sponsor you. The potential benefit is that schools often have comfortable space and resources (such as internet access) that can make meetings easier. The downside is that it might be harder to include members outside of your school.
    2. Your Local Opera House: Some opera companies might be interested in hosting an Opera Teens Council meeting. If you would like us to help connect you to a company by providing a letter of introduction, e-mail us here. Include the name of the opera company and the number of members in your Council.
    3. A Public Library or Park: Public spaces are nice because everyone can access them. If you try for a library, be sure to talk with the librarians first to see if there is a space you can use without disturbing others.
    4. Homes: In some cases, it might make sense for members to host meetings at their own homes. Just be sure to get permission first.
And, of course you don’t need us to tell you this, but consider safety and privacy wherever you meet. Be respectful of your environment! Get permission. And be sure your parent or guardian knows where you are.

Growing Your Group — How to Get More Members Involved
  • Create a Council page or public group on Facebook. Follow these guidelines so that your Council can be included in the Council Directory on the Opera Teens website:
    1. Include your mission statement in the "About" section.
    2. Make sure that photos are appropriate. No rude gestures, nudity or disrespectful symbols, please. (We know you wouldn’t do that!)
    3. Once you’ve created your page, send us the link to review.
    4. Add some content before inviting more friends. Here are some content ideas: links to interesting opera-related YouTube videos, pictures from great productions and articles about favorite singers. When you share a link, ask a question or share an opinion that might get a discussion going. Encourage your fellow members to contribute. Once you have content up, invite your friends to like your page or join your group.
  • Plan an Event. Sometimes it's easiest to get more members if you plan an event first. Look at the Events and Projects sections of the Council Corner for ideas. You can invite people through Facebook, Twitter or even the old-fashioned way — word of mouth. You might see if a teacher will let you make an announcement or hang a poster.
  • Be inclusive! Don’t fall for stereotypes. Opera has things to offer for people of all backgrounds and for people with different interests. It’s not just for serious music or drama students. People with interests in architecture or fashion, for instance, might be interested in design aspects. People who like poetry and literature might be interested in seeing familiar stories set to music. Try to recruit a diverse group in terms of age, gender and ethnic backgrounds. Diversity makes for interesting discussion!

HOLD EVENTS

Ideas for Activities and Events You Can Plan
  • OPERA America Events: Check out operaamerica.org/Live for OPERA America’s upcoming live-streamed events. Find archived videos on our YouTube channel. Organize a viewing party, watch an event together, and hold your own conversation afterward.
  • Opera of the Month: Each month, Opera Teens will explore a particular operatic work. The featured opera is produced at a leading opera company during that month. You can also see if that opera may be coming to a town near you.
  • Watch and Listen: You all are here because of your interest in opera. So, of course, one possible activity is to … watch or listen to operas together! There are many possible ways to do that. You can:
    1. Check out the Schedule of Performances to attend a live opera;
    2. Become an OPERA America member and gain on-demand streaming from the Naxos Video Library;
    3. Find a movie theater that broadcasts live or recorded opera;
    4. Rent a DVD from your library; or
    5. Create an opera playlist on YouTube around a particular theme, such as comedic moments or your favorite arias.
  • Discuss and Explore: Add a discussion onto any event or organize a fun activity. Perhaps try one of these:
    1. Host an opera trivia night.
    2. Interview an opera staff member or artist. Contact OPERA America or your local company for help getting in touch with opera professionals.
  • Replicate: See another Council’s activity that looks awesome? Sometimes imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Contact the Council for information about how they went about it.
National Opera Week
National Opera Week 2015 is October 23 to November 1. We encourage every Council to plan an activity during this time. Learn more about National Opera Week here.


DO PROJECTS

Use your love and knowledge of opera to serve your community. Here are a few ways Opera Teens have managed to give back.
  • Teen Angel Project
    The Teen Angel Project (TAP) is a troupe of high school students in Washington, D.C that performs songs for the community. Their main project has been performing for local nursing homes and hospice and assisted living facilities, bringing smiles to the elderly men and woman who live there. TAP has also worked with Make-A-Wish Foundation to grant wishes; with Autism Speaks to sing the national anthem to start the organization’s walk in D.C.; and with the National Institute of Health and the Children’s Inn at NIH to perform in holiday shows.

    Sound interesting?
    Consider starting your own community service opera performance troupe. It’s a big task, and the teens of Teen Angels were assisted by several parents, so don’t be afraid to ask for help. But here’s how to get started:
    1. Find rehearsal space. Some parents involved in Teen Angels rented rehearsal space for the teens to use every Saturday. Some organizations that might allow for regular rehearsals would be churches, schools or someone’s home (with piano).
    2. Pick out your pieces. Select five to ten arias or songs that you would like to learn and share. Some libraries will have sheet music available.
    3. Find a music director. A music director is a person who can accompany your singers (usually on piano) and help teach the music.
    4. Get in touch with local nonprofit organizations, hospitals and nursing homes and offer to set up free performances. (Make sure you can arrange for any necessary instruments.)
    5. Consider the final touches. Perhaps think about adding elements of costume or scenic design. And be sure to take pictures and post them to social media using #OperaTeens.

  • Music and Memory
    Music and Memory is a nonprofit that uses music to help people suffering from cognitive problems, such as Alzheimer’s, reconnect with their past through music. OPERA America’s Opera Teens intern partnered with the organization to create opera playlists in several different languages. These playlists may help trigger memories for aging opera lovers or native French, Italian and German speakers. This winter, the NYC Opera Teens Council will hold an iPod drive to collect gently used iPods to donate to elder care facilities.

    Sound cool? Run your own Music and Memory iPod drive. Contact Music and Memory.

  • Playlist Projects
    Playlists can be a great way to introduce people to opera and to give back to your community. A well-crafted playlist can help new people connect to the art form, provide an emotional outlet for people in need or help people reconnect with their past (see Music and Memory for a great example). Consider creating a personalized playlist for someone in your community.
    1. Brainstorm people or groups of people who might benefit from their own playlists. Would a teacher want background music while students work quietly? Are there nonprofits that might like a playlist for an event or reception? Do you have a friend who is sad or stressed who could use a playlist to feel better? Do you know someone who just wants to hear good opera? Lots of people might appreciate your playlist. Think outside the box.
    2. Find the arias. Pay attention to the different emotions the songs stir up while you listen to them. Also, include a variety of singers, voice parts and, possibly, languages. Aim for at least 10 per playlist.
    3. Write the liner notes. Include a note for each aria — where it’s from, who is singing it and other relevant facts. Do a little research if you need to. You might learn something yourself. And be sure to explain why the aria is included on the list.
    4. Make a CD (optional). If you have the songs handy or the means to (legally!) obtain them, consider burning a CD that you can give as a gift.

  • Raise Awareness for Diversity in Opera
    One idea is to create a Faces of Opera digital album to show that diversity exists in the performers, designers, composers and conductors of operas. It’s not just fat ladies in Viking hats!

    Interested? Consider creating your own Faces of Opera mural or completing a similar art project.
    1. Decide on a topic. Are there negative stereotypes about opera that you would like to fight? Are there aspects of opera that really excite you? Are there specific operas (such as operas featured as Operas of the Month) that you would like to present to others in a creative way?
    2. Make art! Draw. Paint. Make a collage or sculpture. Collect photographs. Get creative and find a way to make your message visual.
    3. Find a place to display it. See if your school or local opera house will display it. Brainstorm other locations that might be open to your work. Just be sure to get permission!

  • Bring Opera Education to Your School
    OPERA America recently announced the National Opera Teacher and Educator Source (NOTES). NOTES provides teachers with ideas and lesson plans so they can incorporate opera into their classrooms.

    Interested in bringing opera education to your school? Here’s how you can do it:
    1. Browse through the NOTES collection. See if there are lessons that sound interesting to you.
    2. Check to see what subject matter is taught through the lesson. (Helpful hint: See the Advanced Search functions.) Think of a teacher of that subject who might be open to the idea.
    3. Copy the link for the lesson and give it to the teacher. Politely say that you thought this sounded like something that might be interesting for the class. Keep in mind that teachers put a lot of work into planning their lessons and often plan far ahead, so they can’t always immediately incorporate new material. So suggest; don’t insist. If your teacher does incorporate opera in the classroom, tell us about it! OPERA America is committed to supporting and highlighting teachers who use opera.

  • Volunteer at Your Local Opera House
    Whether you volunteer to fulfill graduation requirements or want to gain industry experience, working with an opera company is a great way to show your support. Here are some ideas:
    1. Stitch costumes in the costume shop.
    2. Lightwalk for a technical rehearsal.
    3. Audition for supernumerary roles.
    4. Intern in an administrative department.
    5. Help with social media campaigns.

  • National Opera Week
    National Opera Week 2015 is October 23 to November 1. We encourage every Council to plan an activity during this time. Learn more about National Opera Week here.

Submit an Idea
You’re creative, right? Do you have other ideas for community service projects that you would like to share with other Councils? Let us know what the idea is and how it could be achieved. We might feature your idea here!


GET HELP

OPERA America is here to support you! Contact Brenda Huggins, learning and leadership manager, at BHuggins@operaamerica.org to be connected with Opera Teens mentors and company sponsors.


Available Professional Mentors

  • Arts Administrators with expertise in education, community engagement, producing, stage management and more!
  • Artists, including singers, conductors and stage directors.
  • Industry leaders, including representatives from singer management agencies, young artist programs and conservatories.

Many opera professionals were once Opera Teens like you. Their special skills and interests run the gamut: collecting recordings, contemporary opera and new work development, technology in opera production, and of course seeing operas!
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